For years I’ve been holding on to a copy of Genius, James Gleick’s biography of Richard Feynman. I’m not a huge fan of biographies in general, but I’m fascinated by Feynman, so the book has been consigned to bookshelf limbo for years.
But now I absolutely must move it atop the To Be Read stack. Why?
The sense of heartbreak and loss here is so vivid, so true, that it takes my breath away.
“…I don’t want to remain alone… but in two or three meetings they all seem ashes.”
Feynman was known as something of a womanizer (as indicated by anecdotes in his famous autobiographic Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman and perhaps also in What Do You Care What Other People Think?). Or, if not strictly a womanizer, he surely enjoyed the company of ladies. I’ve sometimes wondered if the death of his first wife didn’t change him in some deep way. Idle speculation, and pointless. But it’s poignant and arresting to read his sense of loss rendered so viscerally and eloquently.
What a touching reminder that even behind the most famous personalities there lies a beating heart.