Societies need myths to live by, and a mathematical genius failing in an exam is precisely the kind of myth that makes life alluring
How did Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887–1920), the mathematical genius, fare in his Intermediate examinations? Did he fail in mathematics? Or did he score a centum? Conflicting assertions float. Myths hover around geniuses and lend them an aura, and Ramanujan is no exception.
Interestingly, the myth originated even during the mathematician’s lifetime. The Madras Times of April 6, 1919,published a profile titled ‘A Famous Madras Mathematician: Mr. S. Ramanujan, FRS’ on the occasion of his return to India from Cambridge. This contemporary sketch, notes for which the paper claimed were “chiefly collected from papers in the possession of the Madras Port Trust,” Ramanujan’s employer, stated that “In December 1907 … he appeared privately for the First Arts Examination and had the distinction of failing in all subjects, doubtless as a result of his illness.” (original emphasis)
Read the full story from the “The Hindu” article here.