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Dr Alistair Brown | Associate lecturer in English Literature; researching video games and literature

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Through exploring the psychopathology of Capgras syndrome, in which a patient mistakes a loved one for an imposter, The Echo Maker offers a sustained meditation on the ways in which we project our own problems onto other people. As a reflection on the mysteries of consciousness, the novel offers some interesting if not especially new insights into the fuzzy boundaries between scientific and literary interpretations of the mind. Read more


Richard Wollheim's Memoirs

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

I have just finished reading the second extract from Richard Wollheim's memoirs, published in the London Review of Books (26:10, 20 May, 2004). I was surprised, after reading the first extract, to find that they had not found a publisher, and relieved to learn in the second that they will now be published by the Waywiser Press on October 28, 2004. For their writing is of a unique elegance, with a controlled confessional tone which moved me deeply. Here, for example, Wollheim has just been discussing his first hopelessly tentative steps with girls on a dance floor and, by extension, into the adult, World War Two, realm of sexuality:
And all the while I lived with this terrible premonition: that, were a girl in uniform, through what I recognised would have been an act of random kindness on her part, actually to have taken it upon herself to initiate me into the pleasures of upright sexuality, fully dressed, one eye kept open for the military police, the cries of soldiers revelling in the distance, the rough salt air blowing off the Irish Sea, I would have responded by falling so desperately in love with her that, as likely as not, my feeble sense of what being a soldier required of me would have crumbled, and the next night, and the next night, and the night after that, would have seen me standing under her window, a common deserter, shouting out her name through my tears.
It takes a unique writer to craft such a long, winding sentence, multi-faceted but never confusing, grammatically perfect but using only the barest of syntactical tools, the comma. It would have been criminal were this style not to have been published, admired, and learned from.

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