Albert Einstein (1879-1955).

Autograph letter signed ('Albert') to his sister, Maja Winteler-Einstein, Old Lyme, [Connecticut], 31 August [1935].

In German, in green ink, four pages, 214 x 132mm, on a bifolium.

Maja Winteler-Einstein (1881-1951) – her husband Paul Winteler (1882-1952) – Besso family.
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Lot Essay

'My main achievements have become part of the foundations of our science': on his enjoyment of the Connecticut coast, the slow progress of his scientific work, and the disheartening political condition of the world.

Einstein has at last found a way of dealing with his correspondence, which is now 'entirely impersonal and very extensive': Helene Dukas 'comes with a notepad and forces me to dictate'. In other respects, he enjoys in his country retreat 'an enviable freedom. The best thing is the sailing in the Connecticut river, which is in reality a long bay with the most picturesque banks. In overpopulated Europe, one can hardly imagine nature in such a wild and unspoilt form'. Summer is however nearly at an end, and he must return to Princeton with its 'greenhouse-scholarship', although on the bright side the Einsteins have now bought their own 'little house' there.

His scientific work is 'slow and gummy [harzig], after a highly promising beginning. In our main avenues of research in physics we are in a situation of groping in the dark, where each is completely sceptical about what another is pursuing with the highest hopes. You are in a constant state of tension until you finally sail off into the sunset. But I still have the consolation that my main achievements have become part of the foundations of our science'.

As for politics, it is 'so disheartening that one feels quite alone in one's own generation. It is as if people had lost any passion for right and dignity and no longer valued what better generations had acquired with unspeakable self-sacrifice ... The foundation of all human worth is ethics'.

On a more comic level, he reports of their private lives that 'our cat has acquired three children from a tom of rather unaristocratic lineage'; he and Elsa are reading Mark Twain together, and works by their stepdaughter Margot. He often thinks of Paul's father, Professor Jost Winteler, with his keen political insights. He is happy to hear that his son Hans Albert has visited Maja, and praises his character, though he unkindly compares his marriage to that of his improvident cat.
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Einstein and Family: Letters and Portraits
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