A thought-provoking book review on the New South Wales Writers’ Centre blog by Sydney-based freelance writer, author and photographer, Kristyn M. Levis, of The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict.
Mileva Maric was the first wife of Albert Einstein. She was a Serbian physicist, the only woman among Einstein’s fellow students at Zürich’s Polytechnic, and was the second woman to finish a full program of study at the Department of Mathematics and Physics.
As Levis explains in her review, The Other Einstein “is told from Maric’s point of view, highlighting her struggles as one of the few women of her time to be given the opportunity to study physics at an elite school, up until the demise of her marriage with Einstein.”
Maric’s contribution to Einstein’s work is still hotly debated. Some academics say she was no more than a research assistant, others claim Maric made more of a more material contribution, as a supportive companion.
What is true, is that Maric gave up her scientific ambitions when she married Einstein and had their children. And she did not return to science when she and Einstein divorced.
As Levis comments, when reading the book, “You go through moments of being in awe of Maric’s character and wanting to strangle her for not leaving her toxic marriage with Einstein sooner.”
Perhaps Levis is also expressing an understandable modern day woman’s frustration that Maric had to give up her studies and work in science to be a wife and mother? A situation many women still face today.
© 2017 Robert Fairhead