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Germs: A Memoir of Childhood


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Philosopher Wollheim (The Mind and Its Depths) tells a compelling tale of a childhood in England during the Twenties and Thirties among celebrities, governesses, and often distracted parents. His impresario father and Gaiety Girl mother entertained such cultural figures as Kurt Weill and Diaghilev. But despite this apparent glamour, Wollheim spent much of his childhood in hotels with nannies while his parents traveled elsewhere. Complicating this lonely existence, his beautiful, eccentric mother had an obsession with cleaning, which came before anything else. Wollheim's unusual childhood probably contributed to his having been a sickly child, and the time he spent convalescing encouraged his love of reading. By age ten, his interest in painting provided another refuge from an ever-present fear of grown-up neglect and disapproval. Remarkably, Wollheim recollects events and feelings from the distant past in Proust-like detail to create a moving yet sometimes humorous portrait. Published posthumously and set at a time of increasing turmoil in Germany, this memoir also conveys Freud's influence as Wollheim analyzes the discomfort he felt as the child of a German Jew living in England. Recommended for public and academic libraries. Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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