Why This? I’ve read Alan Lightman before. His book Reunion was to me was a mixture of philosopy, relationships and life choices that I am not quite sure I fully understood, but found it enjoyable to think about. Since then have been looking for another of his books to read. I have heard good things about this one. In fact Amanda at Life and Times of a “New” New Yorker has a review of Einstein’s Dreams up today, and it seems as though he is both still philosophical and enjoyable. I traded for this on Swaptree, and I knew it was coming but I didn’t know when, so it was a surprise in my mailbox. It came more quickly than I thought.
What’s It About? If you liked the eerie whimsy of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, Steven Millhauser’s Little Kingdoms, or Jorge Luis Borges’s Labyrinths, you will love Alan Lightman’s ethereal yet down-to-earth book Einstein’s Dreams. Lightman teaches physics and writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, helping bridge the light-year-size gap between science and the humanities, the enemy camps C.P. Snow famously called The Two Cultures.
Einstein’s Dreams became a bestseller by delighting both scientists and humanists. It is technically a novel. Lightman uses simple, lyrical, and literal details to locate Einstein precisely in a place and time–Berne, Switzerland, spring 1905, when he was a patent clerk privately working on his bizarre, unheard-of theory of relativity. The town he perceives is vividly described, but the waking Einstein is a bit player in this drama.