Lot 217: TLS in German, signed "A. Einstein," one page, 8.25 x 9.75, November 29, 1921. Letter to the publisher Ulrico Hoepli declining a request for an endorsement of a publication on the Theory of Relativity. In part (translated): "To those who write about the Theory of Relativity…for years I have had to avoid giving recommendations on individual publications on this particular subject so as not to give the impression of partiality. You will therefore certainly understand that…your case is no exception." In very good condition, with intersecting folds (a horizontal fold passing through the signature), several noticeable stray ink marks, and a large block of toning over most of the letter. A summary of this letter appears in the twelfth volume of The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein by Princeton University.Einstein had introduced his final version of the general theory of relativity to the world in 1916 with the publication of his paper 'The Foundation of the General Theory of Relativity,' but it did not become well known until British astronomers offered experimental proof of the concept in 1919. Recognized as a monumental discovery, these findings made front-page news everywhere and turned Einstein into a celebrity overnight. Even so, the exact nature of Einstein's theory took some time to make its way around the world because it needed complicated translation from his original German; these direct translations were the only publications Einstein did authorize. By the time of this letter he was at the height of his fame, receiving the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics and beginning his first world tour, and the enormous popularity of his theory led to dozens of outside works that aimed to explain, interpret, or dispute his premise. Here he probably refers to a book entitled [translated] 'The First Knowledge of Relativity: Einstein Accessible to All' by Harry Schmidt, which was published by Hoepli in 1922 and discussed the theory and its implications in a 'leisurely and colloquial' manner. Around this same time Einstein was compiling a work that did just the opposite, The Meaning of Relativity, which was also published in 1922 and provided complex mathematical and technical details. Letters from Einstein discussing the Theory of Relativity are rare, with this being an exceedingly desirable example from the early period of its international dissemination.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 460
Wednesday, 16th September 2015
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