Monday, December 13, 2021

Mathematician with the Soul of a Poet

      One of my long-time math-poetry connections has been with math-teacher-artist-writer Sandra DeLozier Coleman (This link leads to her prior appearances in this blog.)  Coleman has had a long-term interest in the Russian mathematician-and-poet Sofia Kovalevskaya (1850-1891) and has recently published Mathematician with the Soul of a Poet -- Poems and Plays of Sofia Kovalevskaya  (Bohannon Hall Press, 2021, available here from; this volume that contains Coleman's translations from Russian along with background and thoughtful commentary.  The opening section of the book begins with these words from Kovalevskaya:

     I understand that you are surprised I can work at the same time
     in both literature and mathematics.  Many who have not had the 
     chance to learn more about mathematics confuse it with arithmetic
     and consider it to be a dry and arid science.  In truth, however,
     this science requires the greatest imagination, and one of the most
     respected mathematicians of our century has very rightly said
     that it is not possible to be a great mathematician without having
     the soul of a poet.                                                     S V. Kovalevskaya

Thank you, Sandy Coleman, for sharing Kovalevskaya's words with us!

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