To the happy few!

I wish to thank the 50 individuals (or institutions) who bought a copy of my book on the large sieve last year! I’ll be happy to offer a beer (or any other drink) to any one of you who happens to spend some time in Zürich — even if this was an impulse buy due to its brush with literary celebrity, or a wish to see how the contents stacked up against such competition as Baboon Metaphysics.

Note: no need to bring a receipt to get the drink; I’m a trusting person. (Though there will be an interesting pigeon-hole problem once I’ve paid for 60 or 70 drinks…)

Irrelevant note: the happy few is a reference en anglais dans le texte to the quotation at the end of Stendhal’s La Chartreuse de Parme (one of my favorite French novels); I’ve just done my second Wikipedia edit by removing the claim that he used it for Le rouge et le noir (in the English entry).

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I am a professor of mathematics at ETH Zürich since 2008.

7 thoughts on “To the happy few!”

  1. I didn’t buy it, but I checked it out from the library =) Unfortunately, I haven’t have time to read it..

  2. To those of us “afflicted with being non-Francophone”, it seems more like a Shakespeare reference.

  3. Stendhal was very anglophile (at least as far as literature is concerned), and when googling, I found a number of hypothetical explanations of the quote; some claim it goes back to Shakespeare (in “Henry V”), others claim it’s a reference to “The vicar of Wakefield”

    (which itself probably refers to Shakespeare, of course).

  4. However much I would like to give the credit for the quote to Shakespeare, the credit has to go to Oliver Goldsmith: “I published some tracts upon the subject myself, which, as they never sold, I have the consolation of thinking are read only by the happy Few.” (The Vicar of Wakefield, Chapter 2, quite at the beginning) see:
    In Shakespeare’s “Henry V”, Act 4, Scene 3 there is only a reference to “we happy few” – and the context does not fit so well.

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