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Recently I posed this question to Marie Benedict, author of The Other Einstein:
RT Book Reviews says “Many will enjoy Benedict’s feminist views.” As I read The Other Einstein, I did not have a “feminist” impression. In your writing, did you actually have a feminist agenda or were you simply giving a realistic portrayal of Mitza Einstein as an intelligent woman struggling to maintain her identity as a scientist during a time and in a society where intelligence was not appreciated in a woman?
Marie Benedict’s response:
The question of whether the historical novel THE OTHER EINSTEIN is imbedded with a feminist view is a very intriguing one. As an author of historical fiction, I certainly attempt to use historical facts as signposts in structuring my stories, filling in the gaps in my knowledge with a blend of fiction and logic. Consequently, in the THE OTHER EINSTEIN, I hoped — as you so wonderfully described — to accurately portray Mileva Maric, Albert Einstein’s first wife and a physicist herself, as a brilliant woman trying to maintain her scientific identity and to receive credit for her contributions during a period when society and personal circumstances made that extremely challenging, as best I could given the limitations of history.
But I am writer of fiction, and don’t all writers necessarily tell their stories through the lens of their own beliefs and experiences? Don’t all people, actually? In fact, that is one reason why I rely upon original source material when researching my novels — to remove the second-hand lens of a historian or commentator relating the facts.
As a result, in mapping out THE OTHER EINSTEIN, I saw Mileva Maric and her historical universe through my own particular lens. The lens of a woman fortunate enough to grow up in late twentieth and early twenty-first century America where I had a plethora of educational and career opportunities available to me, in my case education and work as a lawyer and writer. The lens of a woman who believes all people should be given the means to pursue their passions, regardless of gender or background. So, in reading Mileva’s letters and culling together the “facts” about her life, mustn’t I have viewed that information through my personal lens? And when I began writing THE OTHER EINSTEIN, didn’t my beliefs about equality of education and opportunity permeate the story? Quite possibly, even when I wrote my novel with no particular agenda. In this way, I suppose THE OTHER EINSTEIN is not only the incredible story of Mileva Maric and her world but my own narrative as well.
Read my review of The Other Einstein.
Sourcebooks, publisher of The Other Einstein, is sponsoring a giveaway of the book on this blog! Read the details of the giveaway.