Hachette Book Publishing
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Srinivasa Ramanujan was an enigma during his lifetime and continues to be one, even today. Ramanujan was born into a poor Brahmin family in Madras, and his parents were financially unable to support him after his initial schooling, which is one of life’s little ironies, since his contributions to the world of mathematics are inspiring and brilliant.
Kanigel doesn’t stop with focusing on the protagonist, and provides a peek into the setting in which Ramanujan was groomed and raised. He describes how the education system in India works, the orthodox nature of Ramanujan’s family, and his premature marriage to a very young girl.
He takes readers through how, after writing to many mathematicians and several failed attempts to make himself heard, luck finally aided Ramanujan when G.H. Hardy, an English mathematician, realized his gift. Ramanujan received a scholarship to continue with his study and research in the field of Pure Mathematics. Hardy managed to get him to England, where Ramanujan worked closely with him and other Cambridge mathematicians.
Kanigel also acquaints the world with the canons that guide the Indian society, and in Ramanujan’s case, all these hampered with his mathematical explorations. Unable to comply with cultural norms, he became a social outcast. An arranged marriage to a minor, who suffered a great deal under his mother’s ill-treatment, left him in a state of anxiety and distress.
Unfortunately, in England, he contracted tuberculosis and his battle against the disease deterred his further discoveries. He succumbed to the illness at the early age of 32. It is to be noted that some of his unfinished work is still being analyzed by mathematicians.
The Man Who Knew Infinity was written by Robert Kanigel in the year 1991. The verity of the information provided in the biography evinces extensive research and the book received and continues to receive positive reviews in India and abroad.
About Robert Kanigel
Robert Kanigel is a Brooklyn-born biographer and science writer. After completing a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, he began freelance writing in 1970 and published his first book in 1986.
Kanigel’s writings, however, are not confined to books, and he has published over 400 articles, essays and reviews, appearing in magazines like Johns Hopkins Magazine, Baltimore Sun, The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Science 85, and Human Behavior. As an author, he wrote many books, including Apprentice To Genius: The Making of a Scientific Dynasty, The One Best Way: Frederick Winslow Taylor and the Enigma of Efficiency, High Season: How One French Riviera Town Has Seduced Travelers for Two Thousand Years, and On An Irish Island.
Kanigel’s books are commended for their well-researched and detailed content and are considered lively and interesting to read.Robert Kanigel was born on 28 May, 1946, and studied in New York. Later, he went on to become professor of science writing at MIT and directed a Graduate Program in Writing for 7 years. In 1999, Kanigel returned to Baltimore to pick up his writing full time and began working on a biography of Jane Jacobs.