# A Mathematician's Apology

A relatively short essay, in which G.H. Hardy expresses his views on mathematics, aesthetics, and life in general mixed with his autobiography notes. Wrote at the age of 62. Fragmentally covers stories of Hardy’s close friends including Ramanujan and Littlewood.

## — 1 —

Exposition, criticism, appreciation, is work for second-rate minds.

If then I find myself writing, not mathematics but ‘about’ mathematics, it is a confession of weakness, for which I may rightly be scorned or pitied by younger and more vigorous mathematicians. I write about mathematics because, like any other mathematician who has passed sixty, I have no longer the freshness of mind, the energy, or the patience to carry on effectively with my proper job.

## — 2 —

Some egotism of this sort is inevitable, and I do not feel that it really needs justification. Good work is not done by ‘humble’ men. It is one of the first duties of a professor, for example, in any subject, to exaggerate a little both the importance of his subject and his own importance in it. A man who is always asking ‘Is what I do worth while?’ and ‘Am I the right person to do it?’ will always be ineffective himself and a discouragement to others. He must shut his eyes a little and think a little more of his subject and himself than they deserve. This is not too difficult: it is harder not to make his subject and himself ridiculous by shutting his eyes too tightly.

## — 5 —

It is quite true that most people can do nothing well. If so, it matters very little what career they choose, and there is really nothing more to say about it.