A Mathematician's Apology

I had the good fortune of reading G.H.Hardy's A Mathematician's Apology today. The moment I started it, I knew it was going to be one of those books I'd read in a single sitting; and it was. I enjoyed reading the foreword by Snow as much as I enjoyed reading Hardy.

If Hardy could pen prose that's so delightful, I can only imagine how pleasurable it would be to read his mathematics. Unfortunately, I'm not quite equipped to understand nor appreciate finer mathematics than what Hardy refers to as trivial problems.

It was interesting to get an insight into what he thought of mathematics, his work in it, and of himself. Like Snow mentions multiple times in the foreword, Hardy seems to be one of the most self aware of all people. He knows when to claim importance, and when to be humble, all without it being on your face. He seems to have regretted growing old and losing control of his faculties -- evident from the fact that he tried to kill himself -- which is very sad to read about. He seems like someone who would have loved to die doing what he loved - solving the next creative problem, or enjoying the day's cricket match. Unfortunately, that was not the case. The one thing he seems to hate more than growing old is war; which is completely justified. He hated that math was of assistance in war, rather than just helping society. But as he rightly claims, there is little beauty in an art that contributes to destruction.