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.