The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication date: October 18th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Book Clubs
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Much is known about Albert Einstein, from his theory of relativity to his philosophical musings on peace, logic and the universe. There is less known about his first wife, Mileva Marić, but Marie Benedict opens the door to her life and her marriage to Einstein in her new novel, The Other Einstein. Mileva was Serbian and despite being born at a time when girls were not even allowed to go to high school, her father believed so strongly in her that in 1896 he sent her to study at the Polytechnic Institute in Zurich. The only woman in her physics class, she was passionate in her desire to become a professor and to unlock the mysteries of the universe.
Of what substance had God made the world? Could the answer to this question tell us more about mankind’s purpose on God’s earth? Sometimes, in the pages of my texts and in the glimmers of my musings, I sensed God’s patterns unfolding in the physical laws of the universe that I was learning.
It is here that Mileva meets Albert. Despite her disinterest in anything other than physics, Einstein’s beliefs in a “bohemian” lifestyle and his admiration for her intellect wins her over and within two years they’re planning to be married. Plans that are delayed by his inability to find employment and his mother’s vociferous disapproval of Mileva. This stretch of the novel is fraught with the difficulties the couple goes through; difficulties that continued even after they were finally married when Einstein’s childish, unrealistic expectations for a bohemian lifestyle fail to take into consideration the need for money and raising children.
The Other Einstein is bifurcated between the joyous Mileva, the scientist, and the increasingly sorrowful Mileva, the wife. Benedict captures the emotions of this woman who was torn between her mind and her heart. In following her heart, she gave up everything she had dreamed of and, ultimately it was not worth it. The knowledge and quickness of mind that attracted Einstein soon repels him and he becomes emotionally abusive to Mileva, seeking to downplay her accomplishments and taking credit for her work. Once his inspiration, he soon treats her as an embarrassment and household drudge.
The Other Einstein is not particularly deep reading, but it provides a look at a marriage and a man that is not often discussed. Yes, it is fiction, but Benedict uses letters between Mileva and Albert as well as those between her and her closest friend to add fact to her fiction. Bottom line? Albert Einstein comes across as a narcissistic bully and I want to learn more about Mileva Marić and her shining mind.
The darkness quickens. In the few moments I have left, like a meticulous archeologist, I excavate the past for answers. I hope to learn, as I suggested long ago, if time is truly relative.
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