What We Are Reading Today: Einstein on Einstein

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Updated 14 May 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Einstein on Einstein

Authors: Jurgen Renn & Hanoch Gutfreund

At the end of World War II, Albert Einstein was invited to write his intellectual autobiography for the Library of Living Philosophers. The resulting book was his uniquely personal Autobiographical Notes, a classic work in the history of science that explains the development of his ideas with unmatched warmth and clarity. 

Hanoch Gutfreund and Jürgen Renn introduce Einstein’s scientific reflections to today’s readers, tracing his intellectual formation from childhood to old age and offering a compelling portrait of the making of a philosopher-scientist.

Einstein on Einstein features the full English text of Autobiographical Notes along with incisive essays that place Einstein’s reflections in the context of the different stages of his scientific life. Gutfreund and Renn draw on Einstein’s writings, personal correspondence, and critical writings by Einstein’s contemporaries to provide new perspectives on his greatest discoveries. 

Also included are Einstein’s responses to his critics, which shed additional light on his scientific and philosophical worldview. Gutfreund and Renn quote extensively from Einstein’s initial, unpublished attempts to formulate his response.

 


What We Are Reading Today: Walker Evans: Starting from Scratch by Svetlana Alpers

Updated 30 October 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Walker Evans: Starting from Scratch by Svetlana Alpers

Walker Evans (1903–75) was a great American artist photographing people and places in the US in unforgettable ways. He is known for his work for the Farm Security Administration, addressing the Great Depression, but what he actually saw was the diversity of people and the damage of the long Civil War.
In Walker Evans, renowned art historian Svetlana Alpers explores how Evans made his distinctive photographs. Delving into a lavish selection of Evans’s work, Alpers uncovers rich parallels between his creative approach and those of numerous literary and cultural figures, locating Evans within the wide context of a truly international circle.
Alpers demonstrates that Evans’s practice relied on his camera choices and willingness to edit multiple versions of a shot, as well as his keen eye and his distant straight-on view of visual objects. Illustrating the vital role of Evans’s dual love of text and images, Alpers places his writings in conversation with his photographs. She brings his techniques into dialogue with the work of a global cast of important artists—from Flaubert and Baudelaire to Elizabeth Bishop and William Faulkner—underscoring how Evans’s travels abroad in such places as France and Cuba.