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Note: This was first posted at Mathematics Stack Exchange, from which I was redirected here. Forgive me if this violates any crossposting rules I'm not currently aware of.


Currently, I'm starting work on a project about Evariste Galois. While I'm familiar with the basic details of his life — French, revolutionary, genius, headstrong, dead — and those details paint an amazing picture of him, I have not been able to find a comprehensive biography of him in English.

Unfortunately, my command of French is poor and, thus, reading any biographies in French would be out of the question at this time. I was hoping you could point me to an authoritative biography in English, if such a thing exists, and if not, to compilations of his personal correspondence or the like.

Thank you for your help.

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    $\begingroup$ Yes, "dead" tends to be the last detail of many people's lives. Anyway, have you looked at the book by Leopold Infeld, "For Whom the Gods Love"? $\endgroup$
    – KCd
    Oct 26, 2016 at 6:25
  • $\begingroup$ It seems doubly difficult to do this when you don't read French. $\endgroup$ Oct 27, 2016 at 15:10
  • $\begingroup$ While I love the French language, I'm only beginning to learn it, so I'm not what one would consider fluent in 'common' French, let alone the old-timey and mathematical sort of French that Galois doubtlessly used to express himself. $\endgroup$ Oct 28, 2016 at 2:21
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    $\begingroup$ See Rothman's Genius and Biographers: the Fictionalization of Evariste Galois, which dispels many anecdotes that accumulated around Galois's biography, in particular due to E.T. Bell's and Infeld's fiction, based on modern scholarship. $\endgroup$
    – Conifold
    Nov 2, 2016 at 18:31

3 Answers 3

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You can see :

See also :

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The classical source is Leopold Infeld, Whom the gods love, https://www.amazon.com/Whom-Gods-Love-mathematics-education/dp/0873531256

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The problem with the books of Bell, Infeld or Rigatelli is, as remarked by Rothman's "Genius and Biographers: the Fictionalization of Evariste Galois", you can't trust the details in the narrative; they are often invented, by the author or by someone else.

Peter Neumann's "The Mathematical Writings of Évariste Galois" is the best one in English for Galois' writing.

The dozen pages "Historical Introduction/The Life of Galois" in Ian Stewart's "Galois Theory (fourth edition)" is the best biography of Galois in English that I have ever read: quite long, no invention of fictional details, no fact errors.

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