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Autograph letter, in German, signed ('Papa'), to his younger son Eduard, concerning the limits of knowledge and the meaning of life, and the gathering storm clouds of war.
[Princeton] 25 May, 1937 - 2 pages (253 x 201 mm), ink on paper, folded for posting. A very moving and eloquent letter revealing Einstein's most intimate thoughts about the meaning of life, the limits of knowledge, and the impending war, addressed to his younger son Eduard. It reads (in translation), in part:'Dear Tetel, I haven't written in such a long time because I've tortured my old brain with a very difficult problem so that everything else fell aside. But now it has finally failed, so my head is clear again. The world is not made in a way that we can easily understand. But it's spring, and the birds are singing, and they don't care, they just catch their worms and flies . It's a beautiful time here, and I have a pretty garden with a huge tree that I see from my study.'I now live as a lonely old man, slowly preparing to say goodbye. There's something good about that. It gives you the right and the possibility to calmly observe. To not get involved in the vanities of life that used to seem so important ?'Albert [Hans Albert, Einstein's older son] wants to come in autumn to try to build his nest here. He's right, but it's not an easy thing. It's a fast and inconsiderate environment. It's the dance around the golden calf. A wild and ugly dance?'I read the Basle newspaper which is a breath of fresh Swiss air. Things have changed so much over there I can sense people's fear and helplessness. But the [Basle paper] is still better than the newspapers here. Not so superficial. A difficult existence suits men better, after all ? Whenever you feel like it, read Burckhard's views on world history and a good translation of the Odyssey. When I was going through hard times I did this in times of sorrow. Hugs and kisses, your Papa.'Einstein is referring to Jakob Burckhard's depressing outlook on the future of Europe. 'As a Swiss, Burckhardt was also cool to German nationalism and to German claims of cultural and intellectual superiority. He was also amply aware of the rapid political and economic changes taking place in the Europe . and the growing European nationalism and militarism. Events amply fulfilled his prediction of a cataclysmic 20th century, in which violent demagogues (whom he called "terrible simplifiers") would play central roles'.The 'very difficult problem' Einstein refers to is probably related to his attempts to find flaws in quantum mechanics.Eduard Einstein (1910-65) studied medicine at the University of Zurich and intended to become a psychiatrist, but suffered from schizophrenia and was repeatedly institutionalised. He was an admirer of Freud and his father wrote to him on more than one occasion about Freud's theories and how he was coming to accept them. Although Einstein did not see his son again after his departure for the U.S. in 1933, he carried on a significant correspondence with him about art, literature, and his philosophy of life, of which the present letter is one of the best surviving examples.
      [Bookseller: WP Watson Antiquarian Books]
Last Found On: 2017-02-28           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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