Mittag-Leffler to Cantor

by Kareem Carr

I recently found a rather interesting quote from a letter from Gösta Mittag-Leffler, the editor of Acta Mathematica, to George Cantor:

“I am convinced that the publication of your new work, before you have been able to explain new positive results, will greatly damage your reputation among mathematicians. I know very well that basically this is all the same to you. But if once your theory is discredited in this way it will be a long time before it will again command the attention of the mathematical world. It may well be that you and your theory will never be given the justice you deserve in our lifetime. Then the theory will be rediscovered in a hundred years or so by someone else, and then it will subsequently be found that you already had it all. Then, at least, you will be given justice. But in this way (ie by publishing the article) you will exercise no significant influence, which you naturally desire as does everyone who carries out scientific research.”

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