Tuesday, November 06, 2007

La Vie en Rose (Pas)

We drove down to Salisbury in the autumnal dark this evening to see "La Vie en Rose", the Edith Piaf biopic. You would have thought that Salisbury on a Tuesday evening, a film already out on general release back in June - there would be ample space. But no, all the seats were taken and we were shown the door. So much for 'just-in-time' film-going. Upside: we were back by nine and Clare got to watch 'Spooks' ...

Just finished "The Indian Clerk" by David Leavitt. This lengthy novel (478 pages) is an account of Ramanujan's encounter with Trinity College, Cambridge via the top English mathematicians of the day, G. H. Hardy and J. E. Littlewood.

Although there is a mathematical obsession at the centre of the novel, the search for a proof of the Riemann hypothesis, the story is centred around the characters of the people involved.

The narrative mostly belongs to Hardy, although we get vivid portraits of Littlewood, Russell, Wittgenstein, Keynes and other luminaries of the time: Ramanujan, I think it is fair to say, remains a mystery.

The coterie of 'the involved' centres around the Cambridge Apostles, the mostly-homosexual secret society. Leavitt pulls few punches, and Hardy's sexual orientation drives much of the action briskly along.

These are real people and the 1st world war look-and-feel is convincingly drawn. Of contemporary authors, Leavitt rather reminds me of Ian McEwan - also scientifically literate.

You don't need to know any maths to read this book, but if you are aware that Newton was active in Cambridge two and a half centuries before the first decade of the twentieth century, you will be irritated by the mistake on page 22.
Now reading Othello prior to seeing the play soon (back to Salisbury again, but we've booked this time!).