A possible frame for the Einstein novel

Today I read an article on Einstein that might provide a possible frame for the next book.  I’m not far enough in to say for certain, but the article presents a possibility.   http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1211594-7,00.html

The materials seem to be there, in print, translated and available, for me to do this without learning Hebrew and moving to Jerusalem to live in a library.  My fear is that the conflict–the race against a competitor to produce the theory–is too like Darwin’s threat from Alfred Russel Wallace.  The question becomes, is this kind of competition what makes scientists commit their notions to print?  Of course, the divorce scenerio and Einstein’s first wife’s antagonism is very different from the Darwin marriage.  The pain of the his son, Hans Albert, in the article is very touching.  

POV might be the solution to the similarities.  Not sure.  I need to read more– to find the similarity and resonance with my own life with some character in this drama.  At some point I’ll have words in my head.  I haven’t given up on my interest in exploring the question of his abandoning the son who was mentally ill–on the grounds that genius has its own demands and minding the infirm is not one of them.  The second son, Tete in the article, was schizophrenic.  His first wife, Mileva, beggered herself to take care of him.  Einstein, by then, was married to his cousin, Elsa Einstein, but he never stepped in to help–after the original Nobel Prize money he gave Mileva in the divorce settlement–for which she had to wait something like 14 years.  He became very wealthy but never revisited his obligation to his ex-wife/son.   

About Nancy Pinard

Professionally-speaking, Nancy Pinard is an author-educator who spends her days writing, teaching, reading, and researching for her writing and teaching. She is the author of two published novels, Shadow Dancing and Butterfly Soup, and numerous short stories. She has taught the craft of fiction writing in many venues including Sinclair Community College, University of Dayton Life-Long Learning Institute, Antioch Writers' Workshop, Mad Anthony Writers' Workshop, and Molasses Pond Writers' Workshop. Personally, her faith is what sustains, inspires, and motivates her to continue to explore meaning through literature. "You are right in demanding that an artist approach his work consciously, but you are confusing two concepts: the solution of a problem and the correct formulation of a problem. Only the second is required of the artist." — Anton Chekov to Alexei Suvorin, October 27, 1888
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6 Responses to A possible frame for the Einstein novel

  1. Linera says:

    I have heard this before about Einstein’s lack of concern for his children, but it never ceases to disturb me. I’m looking forward to your novel so much.

  2. Nancy: It is not the case that Einstein never stepped in to help Mileva financially after his second marriage.

    Report from 2006:

    “The [newly released] letters also provide the full story of Einstein’s prize money for the 1921 Nobel Prize in physics. Under the terms of his divorce from Mileva Maric, the entire sum was have been deposited in a Swiss bank account, and Maric was to draw on the interest for herself and the couple’s two sons, Hans Albert and Eduard.”

    There were complications, but:

    “Ultimately, he paid her more money than he received with the prize, she added. The prize was worth about $28,000 in 1921 dollars, a sum that would be worth 10 times that amount in today’s dollars.”

    “The new batch of letters for the first time included replies from Einstein’s family, said Hanoch Gutfreund, chairman of the Albert Einstein Worldwide Exhibition at Hebrew University. This, he told reporters, helped shatter myths that the Nobel Prize-winning scientist was always cold toward his family. ‘In these letters he acts with much greater friendship and understanding to Mileva and his sons,’ Gutfreund said.”


  3. Nancy Pinard says:

    Thank you, Allen. I’m delighted to have you fact-checking my blog. I’m writing as I’m researching and had just recently come across some documentation on Albert’s having supported Eduard at the institution in Zurich. Do you know anything about that?

    Have the letters in the 2006 release been published in English?

  4. Nancy: Two attempts to post a response to your questions have been blocked (maybe treated as spam [“WP-Hashcash Check Failed”], though I can’t see any reason why the message should have been.

    If you are willing to let me have your email address I can respond directly

  5. I’ll try again, breaking my post up into two parts.

    Nancy: Thanks for your response.

    I can find nothing about Einstein’s having supported Eduard at the institution in Zurich, but when Eduard was a young boy he did pay for him to be sent for an extended stay at a children’s sanatorium on the advice of his medical friend, Prof Heinrich Zangger of Zurich University. [Maybe that’s what you came across (?)]

    When already in enforced exile in Belgium in 1933 he did put off a visit to England to see Eduard in the Zurich Burghözli psychiatric clinic in Switzerland, taking his violin so they could play music together (with Eduard on the piano). More generally, his behaviour towards Eduard fluctuated over the years, but mostly was uncomprehending, and at times unfeeling. He was convinced that Eduard’s schizophrenic illness was caused by bad heredity. (Mileva’s sister Zorka was also seriously schizophrenic; ironically, she was hospitalized in the same psychiatric institution in Zurich some years before Eduard.)

    After Einstein settled down in Princeton he seems to have given up on Eduard completely, and ceased to have any contact with him.

  6. The latest volume 12 (2009) of the Albert Einstein Collected Papers does not go beyond correspondence of 1921, so presumably those released in 2006 will appear in future volumes.

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