Romance and Readers in Einstein's Universe
Author: Katy Price
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
In November 1919, newspapers around the world alerted readers to a sensational new theory of the universe: Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. Coming at a time of social, political, and economic upheaval, Einstein’s theory quickly became a rich cultural resource with many uses beyond physical theory. Media coverage of relativity in Britain took on qualities of pastiche and parody, as serious attempts to evaluate Einstein’s theory jostled with jokes and satires linking relativity to everything from railway budgets to religion. The image of a befuddled newspaper reader attempting to explain Einstein’s theory to his companions became a set piece in the popular press. Loving Faster than Light focuses on the popular reception of relativity in Britain, demonstrating how abstract science came to be entangled with class politics, new media technology, changing sex relations, crime, cricket, and cinematography in the British imagination during the 1920s. Blending literary analysis with insights from the history of science, Katy Price reveals how cultural meanings for Einstein’s relativity were negotiated in newspapers with differing political agendas, popular science magazines, pulp fiction adventure and romance stories, detective plots, and esoteric love poetry. Loving Faster than Light is an essential read for anyone interested in popular science, the intersection of science and literature, and the social and cultural history of physics.