History has not been kind to Mileva Marić Einstein, the first wife of Albert Einstein. Numerous biographies that have dealt with Einstein have contributed little to a deeper understanding of Mileva Marić and her role in Albert Einstein's life. This is the first in-depth study of Mileva Marić Einstein and her complex life-long relationship with Einstein. It attempts to explain why she failed to realize her potential in her own right. It offers new insights into Einstein's private life and character, and brings to light Mileva's role in Einstein's personal and scientific development. This book is based on the correspondence between Mileva Marić and Albert Einstein. While Mileva Marić preserved most of Einstein's letters to her, most of her letters to him have been lost or destroyed, along with evidence of her contributions to Einstein's scientific achievements. Those letters that have survived resonate with a compelling voice. Consequently, the author has chosen to let Mileva Marić and Albert Einstein tell the story of their lives together in their own words as much as possible. It reveals a detailed dramatic picture of Einstein and Mileva, until now unknown to the world.
Mileva Marić was the only woman to enter the Section of Mathematics and Physics at the elite Polytechnic in Zurich in 1896. She was a person of extraordinary intelligence and talent. However, when Mileva met Albert Einstein that year, her fate became bound to his life and ambition. Raised in a patriarchal Serbian family, she was willing to sacrifice her own academic career and even her visibility to the dream of achieving something greater, together. Mileva's decision to put her exceptional talents in the service of Einstein's career led to her invaluable contributions to his scientific achievements. Einstein wrote about her as an "equal" referring to "our new studies," "our investigations," "our views," "our theory," "our paper," "our work on relative motion." He also relied heavily on Mileva for emotional support at a critical time in his life. "Without you I lack self-confidence, pleasure in work . . . without you my life is no life." Before their marriage, she bore Einstein a daughter, whom she gave up for adoption to protect Einstein's career, an act that cast a heavy shadow over the remainder of her life. Einstein married Mileva in defiance of strong opposition from his parents. She wasn't beautiful, she was older, she walked with a limp and she wasn't Jewish. "You are ruining your future and blocking your path through life . . . That woman cannot gain entrance to a decent family," his mother wrote to him. Yet, Einstein was magnetically drawn to her independence, strength and formidable intellect during the most creative period of his entire life.
As Einstein's reputation and adulation surged so did his womanizing. Einstein's conduct in ending their marriage was so brutal that it dismayed even their closest friends and came perilously close to destroying Mileva. Although Einstein resisted, the divorce decree awarded all future Nobel Prize money to Mileva as her property. This was poetic justice, for it represented a symbolic measure of recognition for her contributions to Einstein's scientific achievements.
Despite their bitter divorce, they shared concern for their two sons, and maintained a steady, if often troubled, relationship until Mileva's death. Einstein sought the comfort of her company, stayed at her Zurich apartment numerous times, and tried to provide help in his own way when she needed it. While sometimes touchingly considerate, Einstein was vindictive and brutal when challenged or hurt.
A true understanding of Einstein as both a man and a genius, is...
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