4.06 (15 ratings by Goodreads)
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'This is a book like no other. It is the work of a philosopher who was also an imaginative writer, and whose philosophy was sustained by a devotion to aesthetics and psychoanalysis. Richard Wollheim died in 2003, not long after the completion of the book, which he felt to be his 'best piece of work'. An earlier book, A Family Romance, the portrait of a terrified manhood, shares some of its concerns. Germs, which traces a passage from childhood to youth, is a recovery of the past that is rich in sensation and in exposure to the world. It opens with the anxious somnambulism of a child's exploring steps, pierced by a thorn, the child is placed against the starched apron of a woman's breast. Soon he is the boy who brushes against the 'horse-like' bodies of back-stage ballerinas: further brushes of the kind were to be long deferred. His father is a fastidious impresario, a friend of Diaghilev's and the incarnation of an Old Europe. His mother is a figure commandingly comic in her absurdities: a vexation and a fascination. Wollheim's 'Confessions' tells the story of a wrestle for meaning with an environment wonderfully evoked, of an ordeal in the dark wood of experience which is both moving and funny, and which has the origins of an adult sexuality and of adult encounters with works of art. Hypersensitivity, and idiosyncrasy, are made a pleasure, and a version of the human condition. Once read Germs will not be forgotten.' - Karl Millershow more

Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 128 x 196 x 24mm | 296g
  • Transworld Publishers Ltd
  • Black Swan
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • ports.
  • 055277314X
  • 9780552773140
  • 2,098,090

About Richard Wollheim

Richard Wollheim was born in London in 1923 and educated at Westminster School and Balliol College, Oxford. He served in the army during the Second World War, seeing action in France and Germany. From 1949, Wollheim taught philosophy at University College London, becoming, in 1963, Grote Professor of Mind and Logic. He retired from UCL in 1982, and from then until 1985 was Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. Between 1985 and 2003 he was professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1989 until 1986, he was also Professor of Philosophy and Humanities at the University of California, Davis. Wollheim was the author of many acclaimed works of philosophy and a novel, A Family Romance. He died in more

Review quote

"'A frighteningly good memoir' - Andrew O'Hagan, London Review of Books; 'Wollheim's powers of description astound...Because of the intensity with which a remarkable man has offered us a view of his inner self, I doubt whether anyone who has read it will forget it' - Diana Athill, Literary Review; 'Germs is not only elegantly written; it is a human document of considerable power and importance' - John Armstrong, Independent; 'Pungently truthful, complex and original' - Alan Hollinghurst, Guardian"show more

Review Text

"'Pungently truthful, complex and original'"show more

Back cover copy

The son of affluent parents - a distant, dandified impresario father he revered; a beautiful, mindless 'Gaiety Girl' mother he came to regret loathing - Richard Wollheim grew up in the English suburbia of the 1920s and 1930s. Germs is his account of those years. It is a book like no other; a remarkable exploration of childhood by one of the English-speaking world's most distinguished postwar more

Rating details

15 ratings
4.06 out of 5 stars
5 27% (4)
4 53% (8)
3 20% (3)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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