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"Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!" Adventures of a curious character. [By] Richard P. Feynman, as told to Ralph Leighton; edited by Edward Hutchings

by Feynman, Richard Phillips, 1918-1988

Condition: Fine/Near fine


   ¶ ORIGINAL EDITION (hardcover, dust-jacket) of the only non-technical book by Richard Feynman published during his lifetime, mainly responsible for his reputation at large. This is arguably the best-known expression of the 'human side' of a great scientist, and an enduring classic of twentieth-century humanism, not to say joie de vivre and "the pleasure of finding things out". More than half a million copies of this book have been sold in seven languages or more. --  ¶ The present example is INSCRIBED "For Mr McQuigg [from] Richard P. Feynman" in black ball-pen ink on the half-title (page [1]).  Howard McQuigg was Feynman's longtime piano-tuner. They had met in 1961 when Feynman asked McQuigg to tune the piano that he had just bought for his new home on Boulder Road. Feynman himself was tone-deaf: He couldn't distinguish volume from frequency (which might explain his well-known enthusiam for drumming, by way of compensation); but pianos haunted him somehow: His first wife had been an accomplished pianist; she had taught his sister to play; they had sold Arline's piano to pay for her medical care; and now he had bought a piano for his new bride Gweneth. And so the two men -- the physicist and the piano-tuner -- got along famously, it seems, plunging instantly into long talks about real and perceived tones, cents, and the stiffness of piano-strings. Following up on one of these conversations, Feynman wrote McQuigg a six-page letter on the subject: "I suspect", he concluded, that "you piano tuners have been mistuning pianos since they were invented". Be that as it may, the two men certainly enjoyed a long and cordial relationship for the rest of Feynman's life, and towards the end -- although Feynman tried very hard in general not to sign or inscribe his books -- he made an exception for McQuigg, offered here with a copy of the 1961 letter (six pages) and an offprint of its appearance in Physics today 2009 (four pages) signed by its editor. --  ¶ Signed copies of this book are NOTORIOUSLY RARE; inscribed copies are rarer still; and copies inscribed to interesting, identifiable individuals are rarest of all.  Indeed Feynman's signature has become something of a 'Feynman story' of its own: The famous 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". The result of all this is that Feynman's signature is very rare indeed, and highly prized.  In sum, this is AN ELEGANT AND EVOCATIVE ASSOCIATION COPY, NEATLY UNITING FEYNMAN'S EAR, HIS MIND, AND HIS HEART. -- --  Collation: 209 × 140 mm (8¼ × 5½ inches): 176 leaves, paginated [1-7] 8-350 [351-352], including the genuine blank leaf at end (pages [351-352]).  Binding: Publisher's quarter orange cloth lettered in gilt, orange boards, plain wove endpapers, no headbands, all edges trimmed and plain. Pictorial dust-jacket dated "1-85", priced $16.95.  Condition: Fine, apparently unread; dust-jacket near fine, price intact. Collated perfect.  References: Gleick Genius (1993) 64-65; J. C. Bryner "Stiff-string theory: Richard Feynman on piano tuning", Physics today 62.12 (December 2009) 46-49.  Provenance: Howard James McQuigg (1916-2002), piano-tuner, of Monrovia nr Pasadena, inscribed to him as above. By descent; sold 28 May 2010.
  • Bookseller: Jay Dillon Rare Books + Manuscripts US (US)
  • Bookseller Inventory #: 000943
  • Title: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!" Adventures of a curious character. [By] Richard P. Feynman, as told to Ralph Leighton; edited by Edward Hutchings
  • Author: Feynman, Richard Phillips, 1918-1988
  • Book condition: Used - Fine
  • Jacket condition: Near fine
  • Quantity available: 1
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • ISBN 10:0393019217
  • ISBN 13:9780393019216
  • Publisher: New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1985 (ie, 1984)
  • Place: New York
  • Date published: 1985
  • Keywords: signed autographed physics graduation gift Caltech



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Cloth
"Cloth-bound" generally refers to a hardcover book with cloth covering the outside of the book covers.The cloth is stretched ove...[more]
gilt
The decorative application of gold or gold coloring to a portion of a book on the spine, edges of the text block, or an inlay in...[more]
fine
A book in fine condition exhibits no flaws. A fine condition book closely approaches As New condition, but may lack the crispne...[more]
edges
The collective of the top, fore and bottom edges of the text block of the book, being that part of the edges of the pages of a ...[more]
leaves
Very generally, "leaves" refers to the pages of a book, as in the common phrase, "loose-leaf pages."A leaf is a single sheet bou...[more]
inscribed
When a book is described as being inscribed, it indicates that a short note written by the author or a previous owner has b...[more]
New
A new book is a book previously not circulated to a buyer. Although a new book is typically free of any faults or defects, "new...[more]
Association copy
An association copy is a copy of a book which has been signed and inscribed by the author for a personal friend, colle...[more]
offprint
A copy of an article or reference material that once appeared in a larger publication....[more]

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