Briefe. Hrsg. von Herbert Meschkowski und Winfried Nilson. (German) Zbl 0743.01031

Berlin etc.: Springer-Verlag. xi, 535 S. mit 40 Seiten Faksimiles und einem Bildanhang (1991).
A substantial selection of letters written by Georg Cantor (1845-1918) is presented in this volume. The replies (if known) and other points are covered in the linking editorial commentary. The edition more or less follows chronology. Several letters have been preserved as drafts in the three surviving Briefbücher. Cantor’s main correspondents here are Dedekind, Klein, Mittag-Leffler and Hilbert. A fair number of the letters have been published before; this information is covered in the headings, with the details presented in the excellent bibliography at the end of the book. Principal topics include general ideas on set theory and transfinite numbers; the topological side of Cantor’s theory is given rather less publicity in the selection, and in the editorial introduction. In addition, some letters are included which cover his passion for the Bacon-Shakespeare question. Several facsimiles of letter or draft are shown (with p. 104 appearing also on the cover ). However, the handling is strange, for a few letters are shown after their transcription, some appear only in facsimile and are excluded from the letter numbering system, and several good ones occupy the final pages without numbering and out of chronological order. A chronological index of letters transcribed and/or reproduced is furnished (185 numbered items and a few dozen others either only reproduced or quoted in commentary): a companion alphabetical index would have been welcome. In addition, a fine selection of photographs is included of Cantor and his family, and of his principal friends and opponents.


01A75 Collected or selected works; reprintings or translations of classics
01A55 History of mathematics in the 19th century