Apostolos Doxiadis

Seventeenth Night (former working title: “Incompleteness”)

Seventeenth Night creates a fictional account of the last days of Kurt Gödel, one of history’s greatest mathematicians and, with Aristotle, the greatest logician. His seminal achievement, the Incompleteness Theorem, rigorously demonstrated the existence of limits to logical reasoning, even within the ivory tower of pure mathematics. Yet, his last days were anything but logical. The only known facts are that he was admitted to Princeton Hospital on December 29th, 1977 to be treated for a non-malignant prostate condition. While in hospital he refused to eat and as a consequence died on January 14th, 1978 of “malnutrition and inanition, secondary to personality disturbance”, according to the death certificate. Everything else in the play, apart from Gödel, his theorem his condition and his death, is invented.

Seventeenth Night, originally written in Greek, was first staged in Athens, in October 2006, with Yorgos Kotanidis in the role of Kurt Gödel.

  • Writing Seventeenth Night

    Half-way through the writing of Seventeenth Night, whose working title was then Incompleteness, Apostolos gave an account of what he called his “ordeal” of wrestling with the subject, at the Mathematics and Culture Conference in Venice, March 2004. Apostolos explains his motives for choosing another mathematical subject for a literary project and analyses the structure and meaning of the play, in relation with Gödel’s major achievement, the Incompleteness Theorem.

    download lecture in pdf format

    • The Mathematical Association of America Online -

      Apostolos Doxiadis, author of the novel Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Conjecture, has recently released a play called Incompleteness: A Play and a Theorem. The play was first seen in a “workshop production” in Athens last summer. Doxiadis hopes that the play will be produced in the United States in the near future.

    • Tefchros Michailidis – Ta Nea -

      “…The two main themes of Incompleteness, a play and a theorem – which, surprisingly, despite its bleak setting could well be called a comedy – are the concepts of incompleteness and anorexia.

    • Vivienne Nilan – Herald Tribune / Kathimerini English Edition -

      “Now, in what is probably its final form — the author can’t resist last-minute fine-tuning — the play dramatizes Gödel’s last days.

    • Lambrini Stamati – Ta Nea -

      “It appears that apart from Apostolos Doxiadis, the whole cast are attracted by the magic of the Incompleteness Theorem, and its repercussions for human living.