I Have Just Completed the Most Splendid Work of My Life, Einstein Says

Autograph Letter Signed
3 pages
SMC 1798
In 1915, before Einstein was the most famous scientist in the world, it was as if he were two people. One was a thirty-six year old professor, separated from his wife, living with another woman, and the father of a son who was furious with him for leaving the family. The other Einstein was finishing a scholarly paper, General Theory of Relativity, which would upend the root basis of everything upon which science had relied since Newton, and so transform Einstein from a physicist of minor academic qualifications to the greatest scientist of the modern era. In this letter, Einstein gives voice to both his lives.
 
He has received Hans’ “dear letter” and enjoyed it very much. He had been afraid, he says, that Hans would not write him anymore, and recalls that when he visited Hans in Zurich, Hans said he didn’t like him visiting there. Now, however, he proposes that they meet somewhere else – “where nobody disturbs our coziness” for one month a year, so that Hans will be aware that he has a father who cherishes and loves him. “You can also learn a lot of beautiful and good things from me,” Einstein says, “things that somebody else would hardly be able to offer you. What I have acquired through great effort should not only be for the benefit of strangers, but rather particularly for my own boys. I have recently completed one of the finest works I have ever written; when you are older, I shall tell you about it.”
 
Hans was, as of this writing, only eleven, however, and Einstein was quite right that the “beautiful and good things” only Einstein could teach him were for when the boy was older. Music and carpentry, he says, are “the most desirable occupations” for Hans’ age. “more than school.” He urges him to play the piano, especially music that Hans enjoys, even if it was not assigned to him by his teacher. “This is the best way to learn much,” he says, “with joy, so that one is not aware of the time passing. I am often so absorbed in my work, that I forget lunch-time.” And don't neglect "hoop-throwing", with his little brother Tete, either, he closes: it will improve fitness.
Autograph Letter Signed (“Your Papa”), in German, 3 pages, recto and verso, octavo, November 4, no year [1915]. To his son, Hans Albert Einstein.

Albert Einstein Family Manuscripts
.
Read transcript Bookmark