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Vector Theory and the Plot Structures of Literature and Drama

Cynthia Joyce Clay
Oestara Publishing LLC
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
[Reviewed by
Underwood Dudley
, on
Reading the title, you might think that here is a book that contains a new application of mathematics or that here is a new book by a mathematical crank. You would be wrong. The book is not by a mathematical crank, nor does it apply linear algebra to literature.

This is a bit disappointing. Chapter titles like “Vector Theory and its Application to Literature and Drama” and “Vector Theory in Relation to the Traditional Dramatic Aesthetic Theories” promise more than is delivered in them. The author has written several books of fiction and at least one play, but she has no advanced mathematical training and the book contains not a single equation, nor even a mathematical symbol.

She has found the idea of vector useful to her in literary criticism and she wants to share her insights. There are many passages along the lines of “Lulls show the altered direction of the force at hand, indicate the magnitude the vector now has, and reveal the sense of the transformed vector. Usually the vectors are still largely intact; i.e., retain their positive or negative sense, and so the different-sense vectors go off on their separate ways.” It is difficult to see exactly what “vector” means to her — there is no entry under v in the five-page index.

Her work may advance the art of literary criticism, but there is nothing in it for the mathematician.

Underwood Dudley has retired from DePauw University and is now teaching one section of Calculus at Florida State University.

The table of contents is not available.