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    Sale 7590

    Valuable Manuscripts and Printed Books

    4 June 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 106

    EINSTEIN, Albert (1879-1955). Autograph letter signed ('Albert') to his first wife, Mileva, n.p., n.d. [c.1918], 3 pages, 4to, bifolium (even browning, crossed in white paste, presumably by censor).

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    EINSTEIN, Albert (1879-1955). Autograph letter signed ('Albert') to his first wife, Mileva, n.p., n.d. [c.1918], 3 pages, 4to, bifolium (even browning, crossed in white paste, presumably by censor).

    'I AM CURIOUS TO SEE WHICH WILL LAST LONGER, THE WORLD WAR OR OUR DIVORCE'. Einstein has received the draft divorce contract, and stipulates four proposed changes (in numbered paragraphs): first, that his yearly contributions be fixed at 8,000 francs, a level he could not exceed without serious risks ('Ich kann nicht weiter gehen, ohne furchten zu müssen, dass ich selbst in Schwierigkeiten komme'); that the money be deposited in Germany, as wartime conditions make transfers to Switzerland difficult; it seems most practical if any eventual Nobel prize money were paid directly into Mileva's hands ('Es wäre mir aus leicht zu erratenden Gründen recht, wenn der allfällige Nobelpries in Deinen Besitz käme'); finally, Mileva is not to insist on Einstein's only being able to see the children in Switzerland - 'No sensible man would agree to such a demand [Eine solcher Zumutung wird kein gerechter Mensch billigen]'. The letter continues with consideration whether it would be better for proceedings to take place in Germany or Switzerland, and a rueful comparison of their divorce and the war: 'I am curious to see which will last longer, the world war or our divorce. They both essentially began simultaneously. But this affair of ours is still much the pleasanter [Ich bin neugierig, was länger dauern wird, der Weltkrieg oder unsere Scheidung. Beides begann wesentlich gleichzeitig. Da ist diese unsere Angelegenheit immer noch schönere]'. A postscript refers to the possibility of the Nobel prize funds being transferred to the children in the case of Mileva's remarriage.

    Einstein's confident expectation of winning the Nobel prize (which he was not awarded until 1921 and his discussion of the disposal of the proceeds 6 or 7 years before the event is one of the most remarkable features of his divorce negotiations.


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