Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth

Writer(s): Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos Papadimitriou
Artist(s): Alecos Papadatos
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
ISBN: 978-1596914520
Price: $22.95
Page count: 352
Year Released: 2009
Status: in print
Original Source: n/a
Other Collected Edition(s): n/a
Genres: biography; foreign lit; historical fiction
Recommended for Fans Of:
Possibly Objectionable Material: none
If You Like This Book, Try:
Also in This Series: n/a

Plot Summary
Logicomix is primarily the story of philosopher and logician Bertrand Russell, who struggled throughout his life to discover a solid, logical foundation for mathematics--or, put more broadly, his desire "to acquire certain knowledge about the world."

The narrative exists on three distinct levels: First, as a metatextual dialogue between the book's writers and artists themselves, as they discuss the best way to approach the story they are telling (Christos Papadimitriou, for example, wants a stronger emphasis on Russell's mathematical and logical ideas, whereas Apostolos Doxiadis wants it to be chiefly a story about people). Second, in September of 1939, where Russell is giving a lecture at an American university on the day that Great Britain has declared war on Germany. Third, in the lecture that Russell gives, wherein he discusses his life from early childhood up through the late 1930s.

Regarding the first level of the narrative, Doxiadis eventually gets his way, insofar as Logicomix is in no way an illustrated version of Logic for Dummies. Though Russell's pursuit of a rock-solid foundation for mathematics is at the heart of the book, it is Russell's character that drives the narrative forward. We learn about Russell's Paradox, which undermined the theory of "sets" and thus weakened the foundations of logic (though, ironically, Russell had been striving to achieve the opposite with his work), and we meet the various logicians who profoundly influenced Russell's life and work, including George Boole, Alfred Whitehead, and Ludwig Wittgenstein.

But it is about Russell himself whom we learn the most. And, as Doxiadis hoped for, Logicomix is "not the story of logic, but the story of its people."

My Own 2 Cents
Though the comic book medium is filled with autobiographies, there are few straight-up biographies. Of the few that I have read (including Chester Brown's Louis Riel and Mairowitz and Crumb's Kafka), Logicomix is definitely near the head of the pack. I knew nothing about Bertrand Russell before reading this book, and it has piqued my interest enough that I would like to learn more--which is the highest praise that I can offer any biography, be it in comics form or not.