“Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” Adventures of a Curious Character.

Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman; Lengthily Inscribed by Richard Feynman to His Cousin

“Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” Adventures of a Curious Character.

FEYNMAN, Richard P.


Item Number: 140950

New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1985.

First edition, early printing of this collection of reminiscences by the Nobel Prize-winning physicist and one of the greatest scientific minds of the twentieth century. Octavo, original half cloth. Association copy, lengthily inscribed by the author to his cousin on the half-title page, “To Frances Lewine Hi Franky – send me your book — you ought to write one-  it’s easy, all you have to do is  tell all those wonderful stories of yours to some friend with an open tape recorder.  Richard.” The recipient, Frances Lewine was known as a champion for the rights of women journalists throughout the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70s and worked to fight discrimination. Growing up near Feynman and his sister in Far Rockaway, Lewine was assigned to the White House in 1956 as a reporter covering the activities of first ladies and Washington society. In 1965, the same year Feynman won the Nobel Prize for Physics, Lewine became the first full-time female White House correspondent. Just over a decade later, she joined the administration of President Jimmy Carter and became the Department of Transportation’s deputy director of public affairs in 1977. After Carter left office, Lewine joined the Cable News Network as an assignment producer and field producer at the age of 60. As her professional career, her letter, and Feynman’s inscription suggest, she had many colorful stories to tell. In an unpublished letter to Feynman dated October 23, 1965, Lewine wrote “I have spread the word all over Washington– including the White House that I am a close relative of the Nobel Prize winner– and I am basking in glittering reflected glory. …’three cheers for Richard Feynman—-and his cousins and his sisters and his aunts.’ … Aside from clucking like [I’d] won the prize myself, I have been busy at the White House with LBJ’s gall bladder.” (Courtesy family of Joan Feynman). Near fine in a near fine dust jacket. Jacket design by Mike McIver. Told to Ralph Leighton. Edited by Edward Hutchings. Signed examples of this book are rare; inscribed copies are rarer still; and association copies are rarest of all. Indeed Feynman’s signature has become something of a ‘Feynman story’ of its own. The legendary physicist, it seems, who understood so much, could never understand why people collect autographs. He asked one collector, “Could you please write and explain it to me?” To another he wrote, “I’m sorry to have to inform you that I do not send autographs”; and then he signed the letter, thereby sending an autograph. He even made a bet, once, on how many times he would have to sign his name in connection with a certain speaking engagement. He lost. Requests for Feynman’s signature were referred routinely to his secretary, who returned instead a printed card saying firmly that “Professor Feynman has found it necessary to refuse all requests for autographs.” Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box made by the Harcourt Bindery.

Richard Feynman, winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, thrived on outrageous adventures. Here he recounts in his inimitable voice his experience trading ideas on atomic physics with Einstein and Bohr and ideas on gambling with Nick the Greek; cracking the uncrackable safes guarding the most deeply held nuclear secrets; accompanying a ballet on his bongo drums; painting a naked female toreador. In short, here is Feynman's life in all its eccentric―a combustible mixture of high intelligence, unlimited curiosity, and raging chutzpah. “A storyteller in the tradition of Mark Twain. He proves once again that it is possible to laugh out loud and scratch your head at the same time” (New York Times Book Review).

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