Rare signed book: Albert Einstein: A Biographical Portrait by Anton Reiser. First edition. NY: Albert & Charles Boni, Inc., 1930. Hardcover, 6 x 9, 225 pages. Signed in German on the first free end page in black ink (roughly translated): "It is a curious fate to be objectified alive. Think with humor while reading. A. Einstein." An ownership notation to the adjacent page indicates that the book belonged to the artistic couple Alexandre and Catherine Barjansky, with one adding a notation at the bottom of the signed page, "S.S. 'Belgenland,' New-York, 14/XII/30"; Einstein was in New York at this time, having arrived aboard the Belgenland three days earlier, and the ship dropped anchor in the outer harbor for several days. Autographic condition: very good to fine, with light toning, and a few small stains, to the signed page. Book condition: VG/None, with light sunning to spine.
This book boasts several fascinating associations: Anton Reiser was the pseudonym of Rudolf Kayser, a German literary historian and husband to Albert Einstein's stepdaughter Ilse; Catherine Barjansky once used Einstein as a subject for a tiny wax portrait-statue; Alexandre Barjansky was a virtuoso cellist, and Einstein was himself an accomplished violinist; and Einstein traveled aboard the Belgenland several times. He was on the ship in March 1933, intending to return home to Germany, when he learned the alarming news that the Nazis had ransacked his summer cottage in Caputh. At that point he decided it was too dangerous to return to his homeland. When the ship docked in Antwerp, Belgium, he immediately reported to the German consulate in Brussels, where he turned in his German passport and renounced his citizenship. Einstein returned to America in October, beginning a new life as a member of the faculty of Princeton University's Institute for Advanced Study.
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