Branches curving upward like a candelabrum…

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a simile from Alan Lightman.

I’m not certain I can say I truly understood the novel Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman. I mostly avoided sciences in high school, and this book revels in physics in general and Einstein’s theories in particular.

Presented as 30 imaginary “dreams” Einstein had about time, the book is clearly written and easy to read, assuming you can put aside the science (which, of course, you cannot.)

Lightman teaches both physics and writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and displays his comfort in both disciplines with great style. Widely praised as a “bridge” between the sciences and the humanities, his book eschews plot and focuses more on language and the ideas of physics.

Here is a simile I particularly liked:

Arolla pines dot the foothills of the Alps, the trees’ cone-laden branches curving upward like arms of a candelabrum.

Have you ever seen a tree like that? I have and I found it magnificent! I think Lightman perfectly captures the objective of a simile with this line. He finds the essence of two completely disparate objects and focuses dramatically on their sole similarity.

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