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Our Assessment:
B+ : succinct overview of why innumeracy is so widespread, and what might be done about it See our review for fuller assessment.
 Return to top of the page  The complete review's Review:
Though there are numerous public intellectuals who have tried to bridge the perceived twoculture divide, the highly regarded poet and essayist Enzensberger is among the few (along with George Steiner) from the 'liberal arts' side who have focussed in particular on mathematics (rather than science more generally).
Drawbridge Up / Zugbrücke außer Betrieb is a bilingual edition of an address H.M.Enszensberger's gave at the International Congress of Mathematicians in 1998.
In it, he considers why mathematics remains beyond the reach (and interest) of much of the population, and argues that mathematics deserves to  and should  be much more widely appreciated and understood.
Contemporary achievements in this field are at all events spectacular. The visual arts, literature, and the theater, too, I'm afraid, come off rather poorly by comparison.As he notes, mathematics really is everywhere in our lives, and it is a shame that more people do not better understand the connexions. He finds a richness similar to that of music in maths (and thinks it could be similarly widely approachable and appreciated), but thinks that the way it has been presented and drummed into most people prevents them from realising what they are missing. How truly widespread ignorance of even relatively basic mathematics is is, indeed, often overlooked, and Enzenseberger's plea  arguing on an even more fundamental level than the usual one for scientific literacy  is a welcome one. In his introduction David Mumford expresses the hope that: the right people read this essay, the movers and shakers of school curricula, and that it moves them to let a hundred flowers bloom in the classroom.Certainly, one hopes the message reaches beyond mathematicians  and even school curriculashapers. The issue is of significance to all society, and so this little essay deserves a far wider readership. An important argument, nicely and quickly presented.  Return to top of the page  Drawbridge Up:
 Return to top of the page  German author Hans Magnus Enzensberger was born in 1929. He is bestknown as a poet and essayist.  Return to top of the page 
© 20052010 the complete review
