FEYNMAN, RICHARD and LARRY GROBEL.
Lot 124
FEYNMAN, RICHARD and LARRY GROBEL.
Sold for US$ 37,500 inc. premium

Lot Details
FEYNMAN, RICHARD and LARRY GROBEL.
FEYNMAN, RICHARD and LARRY GROBEL.
Original Cassette Tape, the only copy, consisting of an interview of Nobel prize winning physicist Richard Feynman, conducted by journalist Larry Grobel on February 28, 1986.
WITH: FEYNMAN, Richard. "Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman!" Adventures of a Curious Character. New York & London: W.W. Norton & Co., [1958]. Cloth, pictorial dust-jacket. A near fine copy. Inscribed in blue ink on half-title "To Larry Grobel, Richard Feynman." FIRST EDITION. PRESENTATION COPY FROM FEYNMAN TO GROBEL. Later printing.

Any material relating to Richard Feynman is of extreme rarity. There has only been one Feynman manuscript to have ever sold at auction, and there has certainly never been a recording of Feynman's in his own voice to come to market.
Regarding the present interview, Larry Grobel explains:
In early February, 1986, I met Dr. Richard Feynman at a small dinner party hosted by his friends, the artist Jan de Swart and his wife Ursula. Feynman told a story of how he began to lose his mind after stumbling outside a computer store and hitting his head against a wall. "It broke a few little vessels, and they were leaking very slowly, bleeding inside, so that they built up pressure inside my head, and it pushed my brain around out of shape, to make room for the blood. If we hadn't stopped it, I would have gone into a coma and died." Before he had two holes drilled into the side of his head he behaved erratically without realizing it was due to his accident. I knew a good story when I heard one and the Sunday magazine editor at the Los Angeles Times agreed, so on Feb. 28, 1986 I went to see Feynman at his Cal Tech office and got that story on tape. We also spoke of other things, including his being asked by the government to join a committee investigating the explosion of the Space Shuttle (a problem he solved a few weeks after our talk), his thoughts on art, literature, publishing, journalism, the Manhattan Project, psychiatry, the human brain vs machines, his childhood, hallucinations, sports ("I thought I was a sissy"), and how he felt about winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965. "It's one of the miseries of my life," he said. "I wouldn't say that my physics wasn't up to the prize, but I'm not up to it on a human side." He speaks about the puzzles in physics and how he feels that "almost everything is uncertain." When Feynman agreed to write his memoir, Surely, You're Joking, Mr. Feynman, he told his publisher, "I'm not going to go on TV, and I'm not going to sign any books." So a signed copy of the book is rare. When I asked him, after we first met, if he would sign my copy, he told me, "I don't sign my book." I apologized for asking, and then he relented and signed it to me. "Not many of these," he smiled. The cassette tape of this interview begins with his reluctance to speak about the Shuttle Commission and ends when he asks me to share African-based stories with him."

Lawrence Grobel is a novelist, journalist, biographer, poet & teacher. Many of his 22 books have made best-seller lists, and he's had 4 Publisher's Weekly "Best Books of the Year." He is the recipient of a NEA Fellowship for his fiction and a PEN Special Achievement Award. Writer's Digest called him "A legend among journalists." His The Art of the Interview is used as a text in journalism schools. He served in the Peace Corps, directed a graduate writing program for Antioch, and taught writing seminars at UCLA. He has appeared on CNN, the Today Show, GMA, Charlie Rose and in two documentaries, one on J.D. Salinger, the other Al Pacino's Wilde Salome.

Footnotes

  • WHEN RICHARD FEYNMAN ALMOST LOST HIS MIND: THE ONLY KNOWN RECORDING TO HAVE EVER COME TO MARKET OF RICHARD FEYNMAN IN HIS OWN VOICE.
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