THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan

In 1913, a twenty-five-year-old Indian clerk with no formal education wrote a letter to G.H. Hardy, then widely acknowledged as the premier English mathematician of his time. Srinivasa Ramanujan begged Hardy's opinion regarding several ideas he had about numbers. Hardy realized that the letter was a work of genius.

Thus began one of the most productive and unusual scientific collaborations in history, that of an English don and an impoverished Hindu genius whose like has never been seen again. Hardy arranged for Ramanujan to sail for England, leaving behind his wife and mother in Madras. Ramanujan's isolation from his family and the intensity of his work eventually took their toll, and within seven years of leaving India he was dead. For Hardy the collaboration with Ramanujan was "the one truly romantic incident of my life."

Robert Kanigel's achievement is not simply to make Ramanujan's science accessible, but to show the pleasure, the excitement, and the love of numbers that inspired it. Here is a life and a life's work that resound a century later, a testimonia to the truth that genius can flower in the most unlikely places, and a biography with all the drama, the richness, and the cultural sweep of a fine historical novel.

-- From the dustjacket of the Scribners hardcover edition, 1991


Publishing History


Scribner's hardcover, 1991
U.K. hardcover, Scribner's, 1991
Washington Square Press paperback, 1992
U.K. paperback, Abacus, 1992
Indian edition, Rupa, 1992
German edition, Vieweg Verlag, 1993
Cassette book, National Library for the Blind, 1993
Japanese edition, Kousakusha, 1994
Korean edition, Science Books, 2000
Chinese editions, Shanghai Scientific, 2002, 2008
Italian edition, Rizzoli, 2003
Thai edition, Matichon, 2007
Audio edition, Blackstone Audio, 2007
Greek edition, Travlos, 2008

Book-of-the-Month Club selection
Quality Paperback Book Club selection
National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, 1992
Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist, 1991
Library Journal, Best Sci-Tech Books of 1991
New York Public Library, Book to Remember, 1991
New York Times Book Review, Notable Books of the Year, 1991
Film option held by Matt Brown/​Edward R. Pressman

Selected reviews: Kirkus (starred), Publisher's Weekly, Booklist (starred), New York Times, New York Times Book Review, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Phoenix, Washington Post, New York Review of Books, Byte, Science, Indian Express (India), New Scientist, Virginia Quarterly Review, American Mathematical Monthly, The Independent (U.K.), Times Literary Supplement (U.K.), Far Eastern Economic Review, American Scientist, Isis, Sewanee Review

Original Scribners hardcover edition, 1991

"A fascinating account of Ramanujan's life which reads like a sad romantic novel." -- Julius Axelrod, Nobel laureate

"This is the best biography of a mathematician, in fact of any scientist, that I have ever read." -- Bruce Berndt, University of Illinois

"Enthralling...One of the best scientific biographies I've ever seen." -- John Gribbin, author of In Search of Schrodinger's Cat

-- From the dustjacket of the Scribner's hardcover edition, 1991



Italian edition, L'uomo che vide l'infinito, Rizzoli, 2003

Japanese hardcover edition, Kousakusha, 1994