The book shows me clearly what I fled from when I devoted myself body and soul to science - the flight from the I and from the We to the It.It's a moving lament, and one that humanities students might memorize to recite next time they are faced with funding cuts that favor the sciences.
Einstein counted the Jewish theologian Martin Buber as a friend, and the quote seems influenced by Buber's ideas - but not influenced enough. Let's not kid ourselves; the humanities - though less dangerous - won't dispense ultimate fulfillment either. I like to imagine that if Einstein had lived long enough to become a Virgil scholar, spending long hours in Princeton translating Latin, someone might then have given him a book a copy of Buber's I and Thou, resulting, perhaps, in a similar correspondence:
The book shows me clearly what I fled from when I devoted myself body and soul to Virgil - the flight from the eternal You to the I and the We.