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Albert Einstein, Mileva Maric: The Love Letters Hardcover – April 15, 1992

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; First edition (April 15, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691087601
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691087603
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.7 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,372,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers 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.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From 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
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Luther on March 29, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This a nice collection of love letters between Albert Einstein and his first wife, Mileva Maric. If you don't know the rest of the tragic story (for her, anyway), it's just as well. It's enough to make you reflect on the amount of pain that love turn to hate can engender.

They cover the period when he is getting his PhD, his first job at the patent office (which he was happy to get, by the way) in Zurich, and the birth of their first, but illegitimate child, a daughter named Lieserl, whose eventual whereabouts became a mystery (see the excellent Einstein's Daughter by Michele Zackheim for an exhaustive search for Lieserl).

What is most intriguing about these letters is the number of times Einstein refers to "our" in his scientific work. He has never acknowledged Mileva's help, but I don't know how anyone can avoid the conclusion that she was a collaborator during the critical period leading up to 1905. Consider the following, in Einstein's own words: " . . . our work on relative motion . . . "(p. 39); "Don't [Mileva] forget to check on the extent to which glass conforms to the Dulong-Petit law." (p. 40); " . . .our theory of molecular forces . . ."(p. 45); " . . . enough empirical material for our investigation . . . "(p. 47); and "I gave him our paper" (p. 52). There are other references.

Mileva has had her defenders in the last ten or fifteen years, but for the most part those who want to keep the Einstein myth alive that whatever he did, he did without any help have relegated her to the role of some sort of amanuensis and helpmeet. If the word "our" means what I think it means, she was a whole lot more than that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. H. Esterson on May 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
Renn and Schulmann have performed a valuable service by collecting all the surviving early correspondence in one volume. However, it is not the case that this is a book that the "Einstein establishment doesn't want you to read", as the letters had already been translated and published five years before in the first volume of the Albert Einstein Collected Papers. Nor do they show that Mileva was a collaborator on Einstein's celebrated 1905 papers, as has been argued on the basis of highly selective quotations from the letters. For instance, against the one occasion (in March 1901) that Einstein, in the context of his reassuring Mileva of his continuing love, refers to "our work" on relative motion there are over a dozen occasions when he refers to *his* work on the electrodynamics of moving bodies, e.g., "I'm busily at work on an electrodynamics of moving bodies..." (17 December 1901), and "I spent all afternoon at Kleiner's in Zurich telling him about my ideas on the electrodynamics of moving bodies..." (19 December 2001). In any case, the crucial breakthrough to the special relativity principle occurred in the early summer of 1905, some four years after the much-quoted words of March 1901, and there is no evidence that Mileva had any part in this. One reviewer suggests that Mileva played the role of explaining to Einstein the Michelson-Morley experiment, but there is not a single piece of evidence to support this contention. Furthermore, the theoretical basis on which Einstein postulated the constancy of the speed of light was his radical view of the nature of space-time, not the null result of the Michelson-Morley experiment.Read more ›
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Alana Cash on January 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
The title of this book is a misnomer - first, the correspondence is mainly one-sided and second, the letters cover the period that Einstein was living with his mom and dad in Italy and Mileva was bearing the disgrace of a pregnancy in Serbia while Einstein refused to marry her. I don't know that I would call that love.

While Einstein does state clearly in the letters that he and Mileva were working on "their theories," some critics claim that he must have been kidding around because there are no letters from her about their theories. Were Mileva's letters destroyed on purpose because they did contain scientific contribution or did Einstein simply throw them away? Either way, it is only Mileva's love that is exemplified in that she kept Albert's letters.

Einstein never saw the daughter, "Liserl," that he wrote about - never bothered to visit Serbia or arrange to meet Mileva and Liserl somewhere so that he could see his child (surely Mileva's wealthy parents would have paid for this). Even when he finally married Mileva, Liserl was not part of the family. In fact, Liserl disappeared (according to descendants of Mileva in Serbia. Liserl was sent to live with distant relatives in order to prevent scandal for Einstein).

So while these letters are valuable in that they prove that Mileva did contribute to the theories that made Einstein famous, they are not love letters.
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More About the Author

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) was born in Germany and became an American citizen in 1940. A world-famous theoretical physicist, he was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics and is renowned for his Theory of Relativity. In addition to his scientific work, Einstein was an influential humanist who spoke widely about politics, ethics, and social causes. After leaving Europe, Einstein taught at Princeton University. His theories were instrumental in shaping the atomic age.

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