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Albert Einstein, Mileva Maric: The Love Letters

Overview

In 1903, despite the vehement objections of his parents, Albert Einstein married Mileva Maric, the companion, colleague, and confidante whose influence on his most creative years has given rise to much speculation. Beginning in 1897, after Einstein and Maric met as students at the Swiss Federal Polytechnic, and ending shortly after their marriage, these fifty-four love letters offer a rare glimpse into Einstein's relationship with his first wife while shedding light on his intellectual development in the period ...

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Overview

In 1903, despite the vehement objections of his parents, Albert Einstein married Mileva Maric, the companion, colleague, and confidante whose influence on his most creative years has given rise to much speculation. Beginning in 1897, after Einstein and Maric met as students at the Swiss Federal Polytechnic, and ending shortly after their marriage, these fifty-four love letters offer a rare glimpse into Einstein's relationship with his first wife while shedding light on his intellectual development in the period before the annus mirabilis of 1905. Unlike the picture of Einstein the lone, isolated thinker of Princeton, he appears here both as the burgeoning enfant terrible of science and as an amorous young man beset, along with his fiance, by financial and personal struggles—among them the illegitimate birth of their daughter, whose existence is known only by these letters. Describing his conflicts with professors and other scientists, his arguments with his mother over Maric, and his difficulty obtaining an academic position after graduation, the letters enable us to reconstruct the youthful Einstein with an unprecedented immediacy. His love for Maric, whom he describes as "a creature who is my equal, and who is as strong and independent as I am," brings forth his serious as well as playful, often theatrical nature. After their marriage, however, Maric becomes less his intellectual companion, and, failing to acquire a teaching certificate, she subordinates her professional goals to his. In the final letters Einstein has obtained a position at the Swiss Patent Office and mentions their daughter one last time to his wife in Hungary, where she is assumed to have placed the girl in the care of relatives. Informative, entertaining, and often very moving, this collection of letters captures for scientists and general readers alike a little known yet crucial period in Einstein's life.

These 54 love letters offer a rare glimpse into Einstein's relationship with his first wife, while shedding light on his early intellectual development. Informative, entertaining, and often moving, this collection captures a little known yet crucial period in the scientist's life. 12 halftones. 2 line illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
Will further undermine the stereotype and reward all who delight in the company of young people deliciously in love. We all have trunks in the attic harboring letters that reveal the same impatience with parents, the same youthful naïveté, passion and delight. But this was Einstein, and that makes all the difference.
Sunday Telegraph
This excellent book will be of especial interest to academics and Einstein devotees.
Booklist
This illuminating and surprising collection opens with an excellent introduction that sets the stage for this record of a difficult romance.
From the Publisher
"Will further undermine the stereotype and reward all who delight in the company of young people deliciously in love. We all have trunks in the attic harboring letters that reveal the same impatience with parents, the same youthful naveté, passion and delight. But this was Einstein, and that makes all the difference."—New York Times Book Review

"This excellent book will be of especial interest to academics and Einstein devotees."—Sunday Telegraph

"This illuminating and surprising collection opens with an excellent introduction that sets the stage for this record of a difficult romance."—Booklist

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``When I'm back in Zurich, the first thing we'll do is climb the Utliberg. . . . And then we'll start in on Hemholtz's electromagnetic theory of light.'' So wrote the 20-year-old Einstein to fellow physics student Maric. Of these 54 short letters, written from 1897 to 1903, the year they wed, all but three have been included by Renn and Schulman in the publisher's Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, vol. 1. The letters reveal the disdain of Einstein's bourgeois family for his ambitious, slightly older Serbian lover ``Dollie,'' who would bear his child Lieserl. The baby is referred to in only a couple of letters, and her fate remains a mystery. The editors' brief introduction and explanatory endnotes do little to illuminate the letters' many scholarly and scientific references. While Maric (who wrote only 11 letters) remains a shadowy figure, Einstein, whom she addresses as ``Johnnie,'' touches on issues and sources in the field of physics that occupy his thinking. These references, however, will be of interest mainly to readers familiar with the theories he would later develop. (May)
Library Journal
When personal letters of well-known people are published, readers expect either new intimate details of the correspondents' lives or developments in the writers' personalities, ideas, and relationships or both. In this collection, readers will find information about a few topics that excited Einstein in his youth and how he interacted with his professors. They will even find that Maric, who was Einstein's first wife, read the same books and had interests and intellectual abilities similar to Einstein's. Unfortunately, none of this is really new information nor is it exciting to read. The letters provide neither intriguing details about Einstein and Maric's personal lives nor much background information that will help us better understand Einstein. The greatest problem with this book is that 51 of the 54 letters were already published in The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein , Vol. 1: The Early Years: 1879-1902 (Princeton Univ. Pr., 1987), which also includes other works that help put the letters in a different perspective. As the full collected works are a better choice, this volume is not recommended.-- Eric D. Albright, Galter Health Sciences Lib., Northwestern Univ., Chicago
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691088860
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 10/27/2000
  • Pages: 140
  • Sales rank: 1,207,451
  • Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.36 (d)

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