In 1913, a young, unschooled Indian clerk wrote a letter to G. H. Hardy, begging that preeminent English mathematician’s opinion on several ideas he had about numbers. Hardy, realizing the letter was the work of a genius, arranged for Srinivasa Ramanujan to come to England. Thus began one of the most remarkable collaborations ever chronicled.
With a passion for rich and evocative detail, Robert Kanigel takes us from the temples and teeming slums of Madras to the courts and chapels of Cambridge University, where the devout Hindu Ramanujan, “the Prince of Intuition”, tested his brilliant theories alongside the sophisticated and eccentric Hardy, “the Apostle of Proof”. In time, Ramanujan’s creative intensity took its toll: he died at the age of 32, but left behind a magical and inspired legacy that today is still being plumbed for its secrets.