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Einstein's Dreams [Kindle Edition]

Alan Lightman
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
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Book Description

A modern classic, Einstein's Dreams is a fictional collage of stories dreamed by Albert Einstein in 1905, when he worked in a patent office in Switzerland.

As the defiant but sensitive young genius is creating his theory of relativity, a new conception of time, he imagines many possible worlds. In one, time is circular, so that people are fated to repeat triumphs and failures over and over.

In another, there is a place where time stands still, visited by lovers and parents clinging to their children. In another, time is a nightingale, sometimes trapped by a bell jar.

Now translated into thirty languages, Einstein's Dreams has inspired playwrights, dancers, musicians, and painters all over the world. In poetic vignettes, it explores the connections between science and art, the process of creativity, and ultimately the fragility of human existence.

Product Description


A magical, metaphysical realm...Captivating, enchanting, delightful (The New York Times)

Endlessly fascinating. A beguiling inquiry into the not-at-all theoretical, utterly time-tangled, tragic and sublime nature of human life (The Boston Globe)

Lightman is an artist who paints with the notion of time (Los Angeles Times)

Book Description

A modern classic, Einstein's Dreams is a fictional collage of stories dreamed by Albert Einstein.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 332 KB
  • Print Length: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Corsair (20 Mar. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005RZB6C4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #31,079 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
From 1903 to 1909, Albert Einstein worked as a technical assistant in the patent office in Bern, Switzerland. In 'Einstein's Dreams', Alan Lightman transports the reader back to this setting. It is late June, 1905. We are introduced to Einstein, who is about to send the manuscript of his new theory of time to the German journal of physics. The author then presents thirty short chapters - each a sort of thought experiment - in the form of a fictional dream journal exploring the theme of time. These episodes are punctuated by three 'interludes' featuring imagined conversations between Einstein and his real-life friend and colleague, Michele Besso.

In each chapter, the reader is invited to imagine a world where time works in a particular way, and to consider the consequences. In one world, time is a perfect circle that repeats itself endlessly. In a different scenario, time stands still. Then time is a quality, not a quantity. We are even shown a place where time does not exist at all, and there are only images. Sometimes these visions of an alternative reality are described as abstract philosophical musings - in a world where people live forever, we suppose that there are those who will seek to cram as much as possible into their infinite existence (the 'Nows'), whilst others will procrastinate endlessly (the 'Laters'). In other worlds, the author presents vignettes - a couple whose love affair ends because time stops for an instant and changes their view of each other; or a mother and daughter planning a trip to Lucerne because they know that the world will end soon.

Such a technical description of the book belies the beauty of the writing, however; to fully appreciate this, you will just have to read it yourself!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accessible and intersting 31 Jan. 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Lightman invites you to participate in explorations regarding the nature of time seen from the eyes of an acquaintance of Einstein during the time he formulated his theories of relativity. The different interpretations of time gives rise to different existential problems, and the book gives brief, intriguing descriptions of them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An oddity 21 Nov. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a strange book. It imagines Bern but with different conceptions of time. It is odd but gets one thinking about time and what we do if time came to a stop and other variations. Although I read it a fortnight ago I still think of the situations which are described. Worth trying.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Time can be extremely confusing 19 Oct. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
In the classic film Groundhog Day Bill Murray plays a wacky weatherman who falls into a strange time warp (never explained) and is forced to relive one strange day over and over again.

This may have some parallel with the events of 'Einstein's Dreams' but, if I'm completely honest, I suspect I haven't understood the book. It is, as far as I can see, a collection of 30 very short stories describing the life of the inhabitants of the Swiss city of Berne during 1905. Each story is set within a different time system in which we learn, for example:

"In this world, time is a local phenomenon. Two clocks close together tick at nearly the same rate. But clocks separated by distance tick at different rates, the farther apart the more out of step. In this world, time flows different speeds in different locations."


"Suppose that time is not a quantity but the quality, like the luminescence of the night above the trees just when the rising moon has touched the treeline. Time exists, but it cannot be measured."

The book examines 28 other time systems but, unfortunately, I'm afraid I got rather lost somewhere between what proved (thank heavens!) to be a perfectly normal sunrise and sunset here in the north-west of the UK...

I hope you have better luck!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly imaginative 1 Oct. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
"Einstein's Dreams" is certainly not a conventional "story", but rather a sequence of different scenarios, exploring ideas and concepts about the nature of time - although this does not do it justice at all.

I found it to be highly imaginative, thought-provoking and very well written. Overall it was an extremely enjoyable read, and I have the feeling it will repay repeated readings in the future.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating and Thought Provoking 4 Jan. 2015
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read this in one sitting, it will take a permanent place on my bookshelf and I will read it again. Nicely written, easy to read and understand, it's not a science book. Each chapter is a short story of three pages or so which can be read on its own. They are set in the same town but each with a different outcome based on how time could (or does, depending on your point of view) work differently, it's captivating and thought provoking.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Einstein's Dreams 21 Jan. 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I purchased this book for my son who required it for his university coursework. As it is a very short book and would not take too long to complete, I also read it before posting it on. I did enjoy it and I know my son also enjoyed reading it. It is certainly a unique blend of art and science. I would read other books by the same author.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Einstein's Dreams 9 Jun. 2013
By Lizzy
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Lots of "time" scenarios, but which one lead Einstein to his thoery? There was a lot of rather boring detail but little information on relativity, which might have improved matters. Too much of Lightman's dreams, I feel.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Beautifully written, almost like poetry. You would be disappointed, though, if you thought this book will be about Einstein.
Published 1 month ago by dMin
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless dreamer
this is a great book, an excellent idea that combines Einstein's life and theories to our hopes and dreams. I enjoyed ever word of it
Published 3 months ago by Gregory Papadoyiannis
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, I enjoyed taking a few minutes here ...
Excellent book, I enjoyed taking a few minutes here and there to read one of the dreams, it took me to many interesting places. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ruth
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as Sum
Its ok but really repetitive to read. I loved Sum by David Eagleman so bought this to enjoy more in a similar vein. However I am disappointed and have given up halfway through
Published 5 months ago by BEV
3.0 out of 5 stars a bit dry
i know i am almost alone in my reaction - but i found the tracking of this young man's life over against an idea of relativity wooden - dry - i am sure i've wrong, but i did not... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Leslie Gardner
5.0 out of 5 stars Something different from your average novel.
Read this book for a university project, wasn't expecting to be able to connect to the text but was pleasantly surprised. Read more
Published 22 months ago by WA91
4.0 out of 5 stars Time changes everything
In 1905, Albert Einstein was working in a patent office in Switzerland. These short pieces purport to be the dreams he had while he was there. Read more
Published 23 months ago by GeordieReader
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me.
The genre in which this was written is not to my taste. I found it was too dreamlike and disjointed.
Published on 20 Nov. 2012 by René
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