A Nobel prize-winning physicist and Edinburgh University Professor presents his latest English translation to a fellow physicist.
Born’s typed letter was sent from Bad Pyrmont in west Germany where he had retired after leaving his Edinburgh professorship in 1953. Writing to Professor Edward Neville da Costa Andrade in London, he says that ‘I have again translated one of Wilhelm Busch’s funny poems.... As I know you like this kind of thing I send you enclosed a copy...’ Born has signed the letter ‘M. Born’ in blue ink. Born’s translation is presented as a parallel text German and English of the verse ‘Hier strozt die Backe voller...’ which runs to a dozen lines. Both items are folded. These are laid into Andrade’s 1938 edition of Wilhelm Busch’s collection of verse,; Kritik des Herzens, Critique of the Heart, 81 poems dealing with love and sexuality. His copy bears Andrade’s bookplate on the front pastedown. Andrade has continued the translation game by himself attempting 5 further English translations of Busch’s verse which are written by him on various scraps of paper and laid into the appropriate places in the text.
A physicist of the greatest importance, Max Born (1882-1970) was instrumental in the development of quantum mechanics, making Gottingen the centre of the discipline during the inter war years alongside Schrodinger and Heisenberg as well as writing an early popular account of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. It was for his quantum work that he won his Nobel Prize in 1954. In her memoir of her father Gritli Born writes of her father’s enjoyment in retirement of translating German poetry into English, notably the work of Wilhelm Busch. Andrade was no doubt a friend made during Born’s long years living and working in the UK after the Nazis came to power in Germany. He worked briefly in Cambridge before taking a professorship at Edinburgh University.