Einstein's Dreams


Einstein's Dreams[1] is a 1992 novel by Alan Lightman that was an international bestseller and has been translated into thirty languages. It was runner up for the 1994 L. L. Winship/PEN New England Award. Einstein's Dreams was also the March 1998 selection for National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation" Book Club. The novel has been used in numerous colleges and universities, in many cases for university-wide adoptions in "common-book"[2][3] programs.

Einstein's Dreams was first adapted for the stage by David Gardiner and Ralf Remshardt and performed at the University of Florida in 1996. An off-off-Broadway production of this stage version ran briefly at the New York Fringe Festival in 2001; it has also been performed in Beijing (2009).


The novel fictionalizes Albert Einstein as a young scientist who is troubled by dreams as he works on his theory of relativity in 1905. The book consists of 30 chapters, each exploring one dream about time that Einstein had during this period. The framework of the book consists of a prelude, three interludes, and an epilogue. Einstein's friend, Michele Besso, appears in these sections. Each dream involves a conception of time. Some scenarios may involve exaggerations of true phenomena related to relativity, and some may be entirely fantastical. The book demonstrates the relationship each human being has to time, and thus spiritually affirms Einstein's theory of relativity.

The novel is sometimes cited as the source of the urban legend apocryphal "universal force" letter from Einstein to his daughter, Lieserl, but the novel does not contain the letter.[4]

  1. ^ Lightman, Alan, Einstein's Dreams, London, Vintage, 2004. (ISBN 0-446-67011-1)
  2. ^ Synopsis and teacher's/reader's guides – (archive.org copy)
  3. ^ Random House, Inc. Academic Resources | Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman
  4. ^ http://www.snopes.com/quotes/einstein/universalforce.asp
External links
  • Einstein's Dreams, Professor Julia Evergreen Keefer, course notes

Stage adaptations:

  • arts@MIT Press Release 3/19/2007: 'Einstein's Dreams' at MIT April 19–29
  • Einstein's Dreams — World Science Festival
  • Theater > Threshold of revelation – The Phoenix
  • Einstein's Dreams (It's about time...)
  • Plaza X by Helen Lai's Dance Theatre,David Liu and CCDC

Music adaptations:

  • In This World by the Silverwood Trio
  • Einstein's Dreams song cycle by folk artist Randall Williams, orchestration by Leo Najar, first performed by the Bijou Orchestra in Bay City, Michigan in February 2011

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