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The Man Who Lost his Language


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements. 1. John. Part I: The Stroke. 2. The Accident. 3. Hell. 4. The Geriatric Ward. 5. The Royal Star & Garter. 6. Vermeer. Part II: Aphasia. 7. The Varieties of Aphasia. 8. Silent in Sadness. 9. Aphasia Today. 10. The Chances of Recovery. 11. The Search for a Cure. 12. A Voyage of Exploration. Part III: John's Aphasia. 13. Cambridge. 14. John's Days. 15. Myths and Metaphors. 16. John's Voice. 17. Hope. Afterword. Postscript to the Revised Edition. Useful Addresses. Notes. Bibliography.

Promotional Information

A unique exploration of aphasia - losing the ability to use or comprehend words - from the personal perspective of one couple coming to terms with its challenges and adapting to life after a debilitating stroke

About the Author

Sheila Hale is a distinguished travel writer and journalist. She has written articles for The New York Times, the Observer, The Times Literary Supplement and the London Review of Books. She gives lectures and talks about aphasia to primary care trusts, social workers and stroke charities. She is now working on a biography of the sixteenth century Venetian painter Titian.


We have been given a truly inspired description of the power of love and devotion in the face of adversity. This is essential reading for anyone who wishes to know more about aphasia and related conditions. -- Signpost, Journal of Dementia and Mental Health Care of Older People
The narrative of the individual case is, of course, highly personal. But it also drives forcefully home the message that each aphasia is different and how difficult it is to make generalizations here. -- Metapsychology Online
This book provides a moving account of the life of Sir John Hale following a stroke in 1992 that left him with aphasia. It is written by his wife Sheila. On one level, this is a love story and, as such, provides a moving account of the efforts of Sheila and John to overcome or adapt to the challenges of the loss of language. In this sense it is an engaging memoir... this book provides valuable insights into contemporary approaches to diagnosing and treating aphasia. It illustrates the complexity of aphasia and the challenges and theories that have been adopted and tested to try to bring about enhancements for patients and those who care for them. Sheila and John embark on a journey that will test their resilience and relationship to the full. It moves the reader to understand that there can be life after stroke and this can be exhilarating. -- Nursing Standard

Reviews of the first edition:'Sheila Hale's own grief is clear. It emanates from every word, each one tinged with unalleviated longing for a lover and friend. Chaplains may read this as a work of medical condition, or a biography of a great man, but its deepest threads are a story of grief and loss.Read this book as a cry of hurt and wonder from a wife looking into the darkness of a world stripped of words, which she had known, glimpsed, lived beside; a lost renaissance garden where once the nymphs of poetry and prose danced in the light of one man's intellect.'

-- Scottish Journal of Healthcare Chaplaincy
The Man Who Lost his Language belongs on the same shelf as Jean-Dominique Bauby describing the stroke that left him paralysed except for one eyelid, Robert McCrum on the one from which he recovered, and John Bayley's account of Iris Murdoch's dementia. But it outstrips them all. -- The Independent
A triumph... a classic in the same way that Oliver Sacks's Awakenings is. -- Michael Frayn
Sheila Hale's book enlarges the language of love. -- Brenda Maddox
One of the most remarkable additions to the literature of illness in our time. -- The Times
A luminous biographical memoir and an enthralling testament of love... No one can help wondering what surprises the next heartbeat may bring. Sheila Hale's acute and compassionate book makes the unknown country seem a little less desolate. -- The Independent
A moving insight into the redemption of a great man... provocative - and uplifting. -- The Observer
I was left moved by this subtle, engaging and devoted memoir. -- The Times Literary Supplement
Heartfelt, passionate... a beautifully written and extremely interesting book -- Literary Review
An extraordinary achievement: a moving account of an intimate relationship, and a rigorous investigation into the most up-to-date medical theories and treatments of a mysterious affliction. It raises all kinds of questions about language, communication and the brain. Most remarkable, it's full of jokes and surprises. I keep on thinking what a good movie it would make. -- Anthony Sampson
An intimate account of what happens when the person you love and lived a lifetime with is struck by a stroke. It weaves the emotional, the practical and the technical into a highly readable book. -- Jon Snow
A moving and frightening book, with implications that go well beyond the personal trauma that gave rise to it. -- The Economist
A lucid and fascinating account of Sheila Hale's search to understand the causes and nature of loss of speech... instructive and moving. -- Daily Telegraph
When Sheila Hale's husband John suffered a stroke that left him unable to walk, write or speak normally she embarked on a battle to restore him to normal life. This book shows how she followed every medical trail seeking knowledge of his condition, and at the same time maintained an extraordinary loving intimacy with him. She tells their joint story with rare intelligence and feeling. -- Claire Tomalin
An extraordinary and touching achievement. -- Jonathan Miller
Moving and sometimes angry... Anger, however, does not dominate this moving book: love, devotion and sadness do. -- Sunday Telegraph

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