Katie's Reviews > Einstein's Dreams

Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman
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Aug 14, 12

Read in August, 2012

I've returned to this book after six years, remembering only that I liked it the first time, reading it on a camping trip in Northern California. I also remember wanting to give it to everyone around me and have them read it as well. Both of these memories were magnified a hundredfold this reading. Lightman has really written a book of prose poetry, it seems, more than anything- short, concise, almost impossibly elegant chapters chronicling a series of dreams Albert Einstein has before turning in his definitive theory on time. Each of the dreams, which take place for two months preceding turning in his paper, poses a different and unique nature of time. In one it is a quality, like light coming through windows, that can be observed but not described. In another, the rate of time's passing slows at higher elevations, so everyone lives in the mountains, in houses on stilts. In my favorite chapter, the end of the world has a set time, and the last month, the last week, the last day, the last minute of existence bring out the best in humans, who dance, and laugh, and apologize, and eat, and gather together at the very end to wait for whatever comes.
I know next to nothing about Einstein, but this novel does its job extraordinarily well. I now will always think of him as a strange, elusive genius who, though I *suppose* I know it's fictional, had gorgeous, heartbreaking dreams about the nature of time, his lover and his muse, before he described it precisely for all the world.
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