The life of Ramanujan is amazing and one is pushed to only awe the limits of mind. Being an Indian, I can see Robert Kanigel has given a comprehensive treatment to all facets of the life of Ramanujan - his boyhood days in small town of Kumbakonam, his obsession with Maths, his seperation from Mother and his wife, his relationship with Hardy and others, his stay in London, and his final days. Kanigel has really done a wonderful job in depicting the Brahmin house-hold of the early 1900s. One could really imagine Ramanujan with a tuft and a religious symbol on forehead, but his mind calculating 10,000 th decimal of pi.
His purely professional relations with Hardy has also been very deftly depicted. How hard the days must have been! Being a Ramanujan's biography its hard to avoid mathematical formulas - and the author justifiably includes them when necessary. But even if you do not understand them - you can just wonder at the string of symbols joined together to purport some meaning.
The narration is truly captivating. It sends an horripulating feeling to the mind, when Hardy describes the first letter of formulas as "These must be true. If they are not, nobody would have the audacity to invent it."
The final days of Ramanujan are indeed sad and emotional and also beautifuly captured in the book. Typical is the life of geniuses - the world has hard time understanding them. This book is really worth in my library.
Srinivasa Ramanujan is rightly a member of the Mathematicians' Hall of Fame. From humble beginnings in the small town of Kumbhakaon in Tamil Nadu to the hallowed cloisters of Trinity College, Cambridge, this magnificent book narrates the story of Ramanujan's trails, tribulations and triumphs.
Central to the story are the powerful influences of Ramanujan's mother and the great English Mathematician, Godfrey Harold Hardy. If his mother, Komala shaped the first part of Ramanujan's life, then surely Hardy must take full credit for bringing Ramanujan's prodigious talents to the attention of the world Mathematical community. Other prominent characters also figure in the story - notably Ramanujan's many friends, Narayana Aiyer, Gopalachari, leading lights in the Indian Mathematical establishment, members of the ruling British classes, Sir Francis Spring, the Governor of Madras Presidency, and Cambridge Mathematicians, Neville and Littlewood.
The book presents a touching portrait of Ramanujan the man: an orthodox Vaishav Bhraman, steeped in Hindu culture with all the attendant characteristics of a deeply spiritual outlook, a calm self-assurance about his abilities, and most of all, an obsession with Mathematics. Hardy, his mentor, is also biographed as the passionately atheist, Winchester educated son of a middle class schoolmaster who went up to Cambridge, and at the turn of the 20th century, almost single handed masterminded the rise of English Pure Mathematics.