I want to begin by saying I am no Philistine. I know people love to write book reviews in praise of an author or their work. I feel the same, and am not much of a mind to spend my time writing reviews of books I did not care for. So I’m on the fence about writing this review of Alan Lightman’s Einstein’s Dreams.
I appreciate beautiful, thoughtful writing very much. Beauty, simplicity, thoughtfulness. Those are qualities I found in novel. The writing was quite evocative, but in the final analysis I did not find it particularly intellectually stimulating. To paraphrase Faulkner, for me it was a tale filled with gentle scenes which in the final analysis, for me, signified nothing.
I even question whether Lightman possessed the depth and the insight necessary to portray what Einstein thought about. However, one can always say that this work is an impression, an interpretation, and it is impossible to crawl into another’s mind and really portray their thoughts. One would not be wrong in doing so.
So we are left with a single remedy: to hop off the fence and decide to appreciate (or not) the interpretation, with the full knowledge that that’s all it is. I do appreciate what he did. I’m sure it was a difficult assignment. And I appreciate the brevity of the book as well, because it was an excellent sleeping pill for my nightly reading. But I didn’t enjoy it.