Eric Temple Bell on Abram Besicovitch
ETB to OV, 22nd August, 1926.
Recently I heard from several friends in Oxford of another of those Russian mathematicians who wishes to visit America. This man is Besicovich - of whom you have doubtless heard. Hardy (G.H.), I understand, really wishes Bes, to see the mathematical places in the U.S., but hesitates to approach the right Board, as B's fellowship was awarded primarily for Oxford, and not America. It seems that there might be some objection on the part of the International Board to shifting a man already placed. If so, I was asked to make the above explanation to you, in case you have anything to do with the matter. Besicovich wishes, amongst other things, to see what is being done at Princeton in analysis situs - a subject in which he has worked.
ETB to OV, 4th September, 1926.
Nobody seems to want Besikowitch [sic]; the chief objections are that he's probably averse to much teaching and totally unfamiliar with actual working conditions, especially as regards undergraduates, in American universities. A third objection is that if we import foreigners we thereby necessarily block a possible opening for one of our own Ph.D.'s. Hardy's recommendation is very strong. As I do not know Hardy it is not easy to read between the lines to elicit what truth, if any there is in what he says. I have seen practically everything B. has written; such of it as I can understand is up to date and high class. ... I shall ask anyone I meet (and know) at Columbus (meetings) whether they have an opening for a man recommended by Hardy.
ETB to OV, 5th November, 1931.
As to the interesting suggestion that I could get you invited for some lectures here, I fear it is out of the question. The financial stringency has hit us hard. The mathematicians never did have any funds available to pay outside lecturers. The one time when we did pay a lecturer, namely Harald Bohr, was provided for by a crumb dropped from the physicists' banquet. In Hardy's case also the actual money came from the physics budget.
JOC/EFR May 2013
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