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At war

Iain McGilchrist, 25 January 1990

The Faber Book of Fevers and Frets 
edited by D.J. Enright.
Faber, 364 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 0 574 15095 1
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... What, into this?’ It is the essential incongruity they capture which makes the words of Haile Selasse, Emperor of Ethiopia, Lion of Judah, as he was unceremoniously bundled by the revolutionary guards into the back of an orange Volkswagen van, so much more telling than other images of revolution – the lonely figure on the balcony of the Winter Palace, besieged by his hungry people, the voluptuary tyrant shot through his immaculate shirt-front at his own banqueting table and bleeding into the fish, the scurrying fugitive clutching the crown jewels as he escapes to Claridge’s in his private jet ...

Doctor, doctor

Iain McGilchrist, 4 October 1984

Doctors: The Lives and Work of GPs 
by Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy.
Weidenfeld, 307 pp., £10.95, June 1984, 0 297 78382 3
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Bulimarexia: The Binge/Purge Cycle 
by Marlene Boskind-White and William White.
Norton, 219 pp., £12.90, June 1984, 0 393 01650 1
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... Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy describes the practice of a woman doctor working alone in an inner-city wasteland: The receptionist was replacing a lavatory seat when we arrived. The other had been torn off. So that I could be shown round, a cupboard was unlocked and inside it was a small metal wall safe. Inside that, row upon row of keys. It was like visiting a gaol ...

New Mortality

Iain McGilchrist, 7 June 1984

The AIDS Epidemic 
edited by Kevin Cahill.
Hutchinson, 175 pp., £3.95, January 1984, 0 09 154921 3
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AIDS: Your Questions Answered 
by Richard Fisher.
Gay Men’s Press, 126 pp., £1.95, April 1984, 0 907040 29 2
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Fighting for Our Lives 
by Kit Mouat.
Heretic Books, 160 pp., £2.50, April 1984, 0 946097 14 3
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... Flu has just hit London, and you are not feeling very well. You have swollen glands and a cough, perhaps with a sore throat; you are running a temperature, tend to sweat in bed at night, and your bowels are a bit upset. To most of us an attack of this kind is unpleasant and inconvenient, little more than that. For others it brings doubts that are a plague worse than the disease, fears that cause rifts between themselves and their loved ones, and a growing realisation that they are going to be cast off by mankind, possibly for good ...
The Paradoxes of Delusion: Wittgenstein, Schreber, and the Schizophrenic Mind 
by Louis Sass.
Cornell, 177 pp., £23.50, June 1995, 0 8014 9899 6
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Madness and Modernism: Insanity in the Light of Modern Art, Literature and Thought 
by Louis Sass.
Basic Books, 593 pp., £18.99, November 1993, 0 465 04312 7
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... The pianist is stopped mid-cadenza as he suddenly remembers his fingers. The lover is recalled from ecstasy by a fractionally too great awareness that he needs to consult an erotic zone. The poem grinds into prose. The Goddess of Nature cedes to the Department of the Environment. It might be called a modern affliction: an excess of self-consciousness, a doing of things by rules, a misplaced hungering for certainty ...

Faculty at War

Tom Paulin, 17 June 1982

Re-Reading English 
edited by Peter Widdowson.
Methuen, 246 pp., £7.95, March 1982, 0 416 31150 4
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Against Criticism 
by Iain McGilchrist.
Faber, 271 pp., £12.50, May 1982, 0 571 11922 0
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... their discipline and offer little more than attitudinising in its place. Another morbid symptom is Iain McGilchrist’s meandering and infinitely tedious non-argument that ‘the only genuine critical theory is that of no theory’. Mr McGilchrist is a fellow of All Souls and an upholder of that élitist culture which ...

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