Perhaps the most basic way the word dimension is used in literature is as a hyperbolic synonym for feature, attribute, aspect, or magnitude. Frequently the hyperbole is quite literal as in he's so 2-dimensional, meaning that one can see at a glance what he is. This contrasts with 3-dimensional objects, which have an interior that is hidden from view, and a back that can only be seen with further examination.
Science fiction texts often mention the concept of dimension, when really referring to parallel universes, alternate universes, or other planes of existence. This usage is derived from the idea that to travel to parallel/alternate universes/planes of existence one must travel in a direction/dimension besides the standard ones. In effect, the other universes/planes are just a small distance away from our own, but the distance is in a fourth (or higher) spatial (or non-spatial) dimension, not the standard ones.
One of the most heralded science fiction novellas regarding true geometric dimensionality, and often recommended as a starting point for those just starting to investigate such matters, is the 1884 novel Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott. Isaac Asimov, in his foreword to the Signet Classics 1984 edition, described Flatland as "The best introduction one can find into the manner of perceiving dimensions."
The idea of other dimensions was incorporated into many early science fiction stories, appearing prominently, for example, in Miles J. Breuer's The Appendix and the Spectacles (1928) and Murray Leinster's The Fifth-Dimension Catapult (1931); and appeared irregularly in science fiction by the 1940s. Classic stories involving other dimensions include Robert A. Heinlein's —And He Built a Crooked House (1941), in which a California architect designs a house based on a three-dimensional projection of a tesseract, and Alan E. Nourse's Tiger by the Tail and The Universe Between (both 1951). Another reference is Madeleine L'Engle's novel A Wrinkle In Time (1962), which uses the 5th dimension as a way for "tesseracting the universe" or in a better sense, "folding" space to move across it quickly. The fourth and fifth dimensions were also a key component of the book The Boy Who Reversed Himself, by William Sleator.
Read more about this topic: Multidimensional
Other articles related to "literature":
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Famous quotes containing the word literature:
“A book is not an autonomous entity: it is a relation, an axis of innumerable relations. One literature differs from another, be it earlier or later, not because of the texts but because of the way they are read: if I could read any page from the present timethis one, for instanceas it will be read in the year 2000, I would know what the literature of the year 2000 would be like.”
—Jorge Luis Borges (18991986)
“No state can build
A literature that shall at once be sound
And sad on a foundation of well-being.”
—Robert Frost (18741963)
“But it is fit that the Past should be dark; though the darkness is not so much a quality of the past as of tradition. It is not a distance of time, but a distance of relation, which makes thus dusky its memorials. What is near to the heart of this generation is fair and bright still. Greece lies outspread fair and sunshiny in floods of light, for there is the sun and daylight in her literature and art. Homer does not allow us to forget that the sun shone,nor Phidias, nor the Parthenon.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)