Mathematics in Classic Literature

According to Wikipedia, “The idea that one butterfly could eventually have a far-reaching ripple effect on subsequent historic events made its earliest known appearance in A Sound of Thunder, a 1952 short story by Ray Bradbury about time travel.”  The Wikipedia article also states that “chaos theory and the sensitive dependence on initial conditions were described in the literature in a particular case of the three-body problem by Henri Poincaré in 1890.”  And yet, here in The Brothers Karamazov, published in 1880, I found, “for all is like an ocean, all is flowing and blending; a touch in one place sets up movement at the other end of the earth.”  Dostoyevsky’s quote came from the mouth of a Russian Orthodox monk in the midst of a long religious section.  I wonder how many other readers recognized the similarity to the Butterfly Effect?  Come to think of it, there are three brothers Karamazov, and the entire novel has a sensitive dependence on initial conditions and is headed toward chaos, or maybe catastrophe, but that is yet another mathematical subject.

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