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Mathematical Treasure: Dodgson's Euclid, Books I and II

Author(s): 
Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Charles Dodgson (1832-1898) was deeply involved in the late 19th century British controversy concerning the teaching of Euclidean geometry. A staunch traditionalist, he railed against proposed reforms aimed at the modernization of geometry teaching, yet it is interesting to note that he also experimented with the teaching of Euclid’s classic. In his Euclid Books I, II (second edition, 1883), we see how he also attempted to reorganize the teaching of geometry.

Title page of Euclid Books I, II, second edition by Charles Dodgson, 1883

A flow chart ordering the presentation of the propositions of Book I is given in the beginning of the text.

Flow chart showing the logical connections of the propositions in Book I from Euclid Books I, II, second edition by Charles Dodgson, 1883

In his “Introduction,” Dodgson noted some contemporary geometry reformers, but concluded that “no treatise has yet appeared worthy to supersede that of Euclid.”

First page of the Introduction to Euclid Books I, II, second edition by Charles Dodgson, 1883

Second page of Introduction to Euclid Books I, II, second edition by Charles Dodgson, 1883

In the early pages, readers are introduced to basic definitions and notational conventions.

Page 3 from Euclid Books I, II, second edition by Charles Dodgson, 1883

Page 10 from Euclid Books I, II, second edition by Charles Dodgson, 1883

Proposition 1 is given on page 11.

Page 11 from Euclid Books I, II, second edition by Charles Dodgson, 1883

Pages 72-73 present the familiar “Windmill Proof” of the Pythagorean Theorem.

Page 72 from Euclid Books I, II, second edition by Charles Dodgson, 1883

Page 73 from Euclid Books I, II, second edition by Charles Dodgson, 1883

The images above are supplied through the courtesy of the University of California Libraries. The work may be viewed in its entirety in the Internet Archive.

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Dodgson's Euclid, Books I and II," Convergence (August 2018)

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