Signed familiarly “Ralph” and “Richard” — that is, Ralph Leighton and Richard Feynman. First-name signatures of Feynman are excessively rare, this being the only such signed copy on the market in twenty years or more; signed scientific books, rather than copies of his popular memoirs, are themselves excessively rare, this being one of only three examples seen on the market in decades. The recipient was James Lee Compeau (b. 1937), the brilliant and original teacher to whom the Feynmans had entrusted their own son.
Jim Compeau was the leading light and “folk hero” of Pasadena’s Alternative School — and not unlike Feynman himself, Compeau too was celebrated for “his antagonism toward bureaucracy, his disregard for genteel language, his . . . irreverent political pronouncements, his . . . ridicule of most schooling practice, his tolerance of any behavior from others, his . . . subversiveness within an institutional framework, and his utter unconventionality”.
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