Novelists Who “Borrowed” Darwin and Einstein

Darwin, an invalid, went frequently to various water cure establishments where he repeatedly encountered the same fellow clients.  One such, Georgiana Craik, was a novelist of the sentimental romantic genre that Darwin himself preferred.  While Georgiana never used Darwin in a novel, her sister-in-law, Dinah Mulock Craik wrote a short story about a water cure that was likely Moor Park.  In the story, the establishment’s doctor and a client vye for the same beautiful woman. Some speculate that the client was based on Darwin.  (Moor Park’s doctor, Edward Lane, was in fact accused of making inappropriate advances by a female client, but was acquitted in court.)

Einstein was most assuredly the model for the character of Johannes Kepler in Max Brod’s novel, The Redemption of Tycho Brahe. Brod met Einstein during the latter’s brief sojourn in Prague, and whether consciously or unconsciously, Brod drew a portrait of Kepler that many readers recognized as Einstein.  Passages of this novel are quoted in Philipp Frank’s biography, Einstein:  His Life and Times and are interesting for their description of Einstein’s mien.  The point-of-view character is Tycho Brod:

“. . . Kepler now inspired him with a feeling of awe.  The tranquillity with which he applied himshelf to his labors and entirely ignored the warblings of flatterers was to tycho almost superhuman.  There was something incomprehensible in its absence of emotion, like a breath from a distant region of ice. . . . He recalled that popular ballad in which a Landsknect had sold his heart to the Devil and had received in exchange a bullet-proof coat of mail.  Of such sort was Kepler.  He had no heart and therefore had nothing to fear from the world.  He was not capable of emotion or of love.  And for that reason he was naturally also secure against the aberrations of feelings.  ‘But I must love and err,’ groaned Tycho, ‘I must be flung hither and thither in this hell, beholding him floating above, pure and happy, upon cool clouds of limpid blue.  A spotless angel!  But is he really?  Is he not rather atrocious in his lack of sympathy?’”

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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One Response to Novelists Who “Borrowed” Darwin and Einstein

  1. phyllis Thompson says:

    Your blog is like a serial..always keeping one on one’s toes! Keep them coming..

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