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Correspondence of John Wallis (1616–1703), Volume II (1660–September 1668)

Philip Beeley and Christoph J. Scriba, editors
Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
[Reviewed by
Fernando Q. Gouvêa
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As we noted when we reviewed the first volume, Beeley and Scriba are putting together a very welcome edition of the correspondence of John Wallis. Volume II covers the period from 1660 to September of 1668. This period includes the founding of the Royal Society and the reaction to challenges from Fermat (on the so-called Pell equation) and from Pascal (on the cycloid), so that many of these letters are of great interest to historians.

Most of the material collected here has not been available before, or has only been available in obscure sources, so we owe the editors a huge debt for their careful and dedicated work. In addition to the letters (reprinted in their original languages, mostly English and Latin), they have included a small amount of supporting material that helps set the context. Short biographies of the correspondents are provided, and there is a full bibliography and index.

Wallis lived until 1703, so we can expect a few more volumes to come. When completed, this edition of the correspondence will be an essential reference for anyone interested in the intellectual history of the period. Libraries should make sure to buy these as they come out.

Fernando Q. Gouvêa is professor of mathematics at Colby College in Waterville, ME.

The table of contents is not available.