Graphic novel: Logicomix

One more comics-related posting for the day, but no gay connection this time:

Apostolos Doxiadis & Christos H. Papadimitridou (art by Alecos Papadatos, color by Annie Di Donna). Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth (2009)

From Wikipedia:

Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth is a graphic novel about the foundational quest in mathematics, written by Apostolos Doxiadis, author of Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Conjecture, and theoretical computer scientist Christos Papadimitriou of the University of California, Berkeley. Character design and artwork are by Alecos Papadatos and color is by Annie Di Donna. The book was originally written in English, and was translated into Greek by author Apostolos Doxiadis for the release in Greece, which preceded the UK and U.S. releases.

… Logicomix intertwines the philosophical struggles with the characters’ own personal turmoil. These are in turn played out just upstage of the momentous historical events of the era and the ideological battles which gave rise to them. The narrator of the story is Bertrand Russell, who stands as an icon of many of these themes: a deeply sensitive and introspective man, Russell was not just a philosopher and pacifist, he was also one of the prominent figures in the foundational quest. Russell’s life story, depicted by Logicomix, is itself a journey through the goals and struggles, and triumph and tragedy shared by many great thinkers of the 20th century: Georg Cantor, Ludwig Wittgenstein, G. E. Moore, Alfred North Whitehead, David Hilbert, Gottlob Frege, Henri Poincaré, Kurt Gödel, and Alan Turing.

A parallel tale, set in present-day Athens, records the creators’ disagreement on the meaning of the story, thus setting in relief the foundational quest as a quintessentially modern adventure. It is on the one hand a tragedy of the hubris of rationalism, which descends inextricably on madness, and on the other an origin myth of the computer.

Like a number of other graphic X works, this one is more than one thing: it is graphical biofiction, a somewhat fictionalized version of the life histories of a number of figures in philosophy and mathematics; it is also graphical expository prose on the founfations of mathematics; and then (as noted above) it’s a graphical metatext on all the rest.

(For comparison, consider Lucy Knisley’s graphic X work Relish, posted about here on 5/11/14: this is both a cookbook — graphical expository prose — and a memoir. Logicomix is considerably more complex than this.)

Like virtually all biofiction, Logicomix has been criticized as not faithful to the historical record — that is, for being fiction rather than biography.


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