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Richard Wollheim

Germs: a memoir of childhood

Richard Wollheim is renowned for his works on the philosophy of mind and in particular its relationship to the visual arts. But even if you don't know about his philosophical work, you may well be fascinated by Germs: a memoir of childhood. This is not a typical romaticised view of childhood. It tell of how Wollheim, born in 1923, was often a sickly boy, mixing little with other children of his age. His parents were well off, but, as was fairly typical for such families, they also seemed rather distant. Thus much of his time was spent with his nanny or governess, and of course his books.

But it's hard to do justice to this unique work, which is not so much an autobiographical account of his young life as a series of episodes, each illustrating an aspect of his beliefs and feelings. There are his problems with learning to swim, and how once he thought he was drowning and decided to get it over with by drinking in water. There's the story of how rainy afternoons held the promise of a visit to the cinema, but how it would strangely upset him if it had cleared up when the film finished. If you want a reminder of the tangled thoughts that really take place in the minds of the young then you should take a look at this book.

Amazon.com info
Hardcover 320 pages  
ISBN: 1593761252
Salesrank: 2840491
Weight:1.05 lbs
Published: 2006 Counterpoint
Amazon price $20.67
Marketplace:New from $13.19:Used from $4.42
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Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 320 pages  
ISBN: 055277314X
Salesrank: 1424826
Weight:0.57 lbs
Published: 2005 Black Swan
Marketplace:New from £5.99:Used from £0.01
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Amazon.ca info
Hardcover 263 pages  
ISBN: 1593761252
Salesrank:
Weight:1.05 lbs
Published: 2006 Shoemaker & Hoard
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 21.18:Used from CDN$ 10.79
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Product Description
Richard Wollheim grew up lonely and sad in London's wealthy suburbs during the 1920s and 1930s, yet his was a childhood more interesting than most. He had an impresario father and a “Gaiety Girl” mother; together they attracted important guests (Diaghilev, Kurt Weill, Serge Lifar) to the grand houses and hotels that punctuated the landscape of Wollheim's early years. Germs is his account of that time, of the years he spent adoring his charming but distant father; of his regret for loathing his beautiful, mindless mother. Told in prose that with hypnotic ease moves from deadpan comedy to poignant loneliness, Germs is already a classic work of memoir.

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