EINSTEIN (ALBERT) Typed letter signed, in English, to Mrs Margaret Brackenbury, sending thanks for a Bible, 1954
Lot 318
Sold for £5,000 (US$ 8,404) inc. premium
Lot Details
Typed letter signed ("A. Einstein"), in English, to Mrs Margaret Brackenbury, of St Perrins, Amherst Gardens, Hastings: "I thank you very much for your kind letter and for the Holy Book you sent me. Doubting that I am as good as you believe I am/ I am returning cordially your kind wishes", 1 page, blindstamped address, 4to, Princeton, 8 May 1954


  • 'DOUBTING THAT I AM AS GOOD AS YOU BELIEVE I AM' – EINSTEIN SENDS THANKS FOR A BIBLE. He was to die just under a year later, on 18 April 1955. Four months earlier, on 3 January 1954, HE had written in what has become a famous letter to the philosopher Erik Gutkind, after reading his book Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt: 'The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still purely primitive, legends which are nevertheless pretty childish'. But his views were nuanced, and it might be said that it was more religion as made explicit in the Bible that he rejected rather than religion itself. For he wrote in another letter in that last year of his life: 'It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it' (24 March 1954, Albert Einstein the Human Side, edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, 1981, p. 43). When asked if he believed in the God of Spinoza, he replied: 'I can't answer with a simple yes or no. I'm not an atheist and I don't think I call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see a universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws, but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations' (Denis Brian, Einstein: A Life, 1996, p. 186).

    A Bible inscribed by him and his wife, Elsa, was sold in our New York rooms on 25 June this year, lot 3179 ($68,500).
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