Saturday, May 31, 2008

50 Greatest Books

There is no article in todays Globe & Mail Online Edition, specifically identified as one of the 50 Greatest Books. This may have something to do with the email I sent them last week telling them their online edition was wrong, I don't know. Anyway, this review fits the parameters for 50 Greatest Books, so I will assume this is correct. Since it is a short article, I have posted the entire review.

More on memory
May 31, 2008

Readers intrigued by hyperthymestic syndrome, the condition that afflicts poor Jill Price with an ineradicable memory, may be interested to learn that hers is not the first such account. In 1968, the great Russian psychologist A. R. Luria published a book that has since entered the limited library of neurological classics. The Mind of a Mnemonist: A Little Book About a Vast Memory (available from Harvard University Press, 160 pages, $26.50) is a gem of both clinical writing and literary narrative, comparable to the likes of Oliver Sacks's The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.

Luria founded a new genre with this work, in which a patient was treated not as a collection of bodily syndromes, but as a human in full: He called it "romantic science." The human in this case was a young Russian, S., whose memory bank was limitless and who eventually became a professional mnemonist. Luria's exploration of his gift (and his curse) is fascinating, lucid and compassionate. Do read it.

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