Albert Einstein is mostly remembered for his theories and inventions, his quotes, quirky habits, that hair, the way he dressed and his Princeton days. Only a handful of historians are interested in his personal letters. Imagine you were a friend, lover, relative or colleague receiving a handwritten note starting like this:

Dear Habicht, Such a solemn air of silence has descended between us that I almost feel as if I am committing a sacrilege when I break it now with some inconsequential babble... What are you up to, you frozen whale, you smoked, dried, canned piece of soul...?

Lieber Habicht! Es herrscht ein weihevolles Stillschweigen zwischen uns, so daß es mir fast wie eine sündige Entweihung vorkommt, wenn ich es jetzt durch ein wenig bedeutsames Gepappel unterbreche... Was machen Sie denn, Sie eingefrorener Walfisch, Sie getrocknetes, eingebüchstes Stück Seele...?

Einstein's original German is included in case the translation was poor, although the imagery and greeting are humorous in any language. Explaining the context would detract. I'm certain the dead don't mind if sometimes for amusement or money we pluck quotes to use at opportune times or to print on mugs, t-shirts, socks and posters reducing to one phrase an entire book or philosophy.


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