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Genius

Richard Gregory, 17 June 1982

The Mind’s Best Work 
by D.N. Perkins.
Harvard, 314 pp., £12.95, November 1981, 0 06 745762 2
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The Mathematical Experience 
by Philip Davis and Reuben Hersh.
Harvester, 440 pp., £12.95, November 1981, 0 7108 0364 8
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... Why are some people creative to the point of genius, even though they may not appear especially intelligent, or in any other way remarkable? Creativity is a long-standing puzzle which has received many trite and no very convincing accounts. Explanations range from the Divine Spark to slogging hard work; from unconscious problem-solving to super-conscious awareness; from the darkness of profound dreams to the brightness of extreme wakefulness; from slow gestations to instant insights ...

Against Consciousness

Richard Gregory, 24 January 1980

Pavlov 
by Jeffrey Gray.
Fontana, 140 pp., £1.25, September 1980, 9780006343042
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J.B. Watson: The Founder of Behaviourism 
by David Cohen.
Routledge, 297 pp., £8.95, September 1980, 0 7100 0054 5
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... Jeffrey Gray’s scientific biography of the Russian physiologist Ivan Petrovich Pavlov is a worthy member of the distinguished Modern Masters series, which includes excellent semi-technical short books on, among others, Einstein, Wittgenstein, Russell, Freud, Piaget and Chomsky. The author, who lectures in the Department of Psychology at the University of Oxford, writes from first-hand expert knowledge of experimental work in animal behaviour and the relevance of experiments on animals to human neurology and psychology ...

The New Phrenology

Patrick Wall, 17 December 1981

Mind in Science 
by Richard Gregory.
Weidenfeld, 641 pp., £18.50, September 1981, 0 297 77825 0
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... has solved its problems by examining how humans have solved theirs. This is the first point of Richard Gregory’s book. The book begins with a section called ‘Forging science from myth’. Gregory is a psychologist and his best-known contributions relate to optical illusions. In this book he shows the tremendous ...

Is that you, James?

Thomas Nagel, 1 October 1987

Philosophy and the Brain 
by J.Z. Young.
Oxford, 241 pp., £12.95, January 1987, 0 19 219215 9
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Freedom and Belief 
by Galen Strawson.
Oxford, 353 pp., £27.50, January 1987, 0 19 824938 1
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The Oxford Companion to the Mind 
edited by Richard Gregory.
Oxford, 874 pp., £25, September 1987, 9780198661245
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... interested in these topics should acquire The Oxford Companion to the Mind, edited by Richard Gregory. The entries come from an outstanding group of 200 contributors, most of them psychologists, neuroscientists and philosophers. A substantial number were written by Gregory himself, and the book as a whole ...

Representing Grandma

Steven Rose, 7 July 1994

The Astounding Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul 
by Francis Crick.
Simon and Schuster, 317 pp., £16.99, May 1994, 9780671711580
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... He takes us through the psychology of vision by a route familiar to anyone who has read Richard Gregory. There follows a brief account of neuroanatomy in general and the primate visual system in particular, where he has been somewhat upstaged by the superb new book by the visual physiologist Semir Zeki, A Vision of the Brain.* In fact, it is ...

The Passing Show

Ian Hacking, 2 January 1997

On Blindness: Letters between Bryan Magee and Martin Milligan 
Oxford, 188 pp., £16.99, September 1995, 0 19 823543 7Show More
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... distinguish and tell which is the globe, which the cube?’ The old philosophers thought not, but Richard Gregory and subsequent workers have told more complex stories about recovery from blindness. We do not need philosophers to become engrossed. The one non-spiritual goal of Christ’s ministry was the curing of blindness, and every evangelist ...

Trollopiad

John Sutherland, 9 January 1992

The Chronicler of Barsetshire: A Life of Anthony Trollope 
by R.H. Super.
Manchester, 528 pp., £29.95, July 1990, 0 472 10102 1
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Anthony Trollope: A Victorian in his World 
by Richard Mullen.
Duckworth, 767 pp., £25, July 1990, 0 7156 2293 5
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Trollope: A Biography 
by N. John Hall.
Oxford, 581 pp., £25, October 1991, 0 19 812627 1
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... It is not, he says, ‘the authoritative record of events put down as they actually occurred’. Richard Mullen and Hall use An Autobiography extensively, but tactfully (and sometimes tacitly) correct its account. Super, Mullen and Hall are skilled biographers, and each has his particular edge. Hall has edited the letters, and creates the most fluent ...

A Djinn speaks

Colm Tóibín: What about George Yeats?, 20 February 2003

Becoming George: The Life of Mrs W.B. Yeats 
by Ann Saddlemyer.
Oxford, 808 pp., £25, September 2002, 0 19 811232 7
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... In 1979, in a preface to a new edition of Yeats: The Man and the Masks, Richard Ellmann wrote about 46 Palmerston Road in Rathmines in Dublin, where George Yeats lived between her husband’s death in 1939 and her own death almost thirty years later. Mrs Yeats lived, Ellmann wrote, among the dead poet’s papers. ‘There in the bookcases was his working library, often heavily annotated, and in cabinets and file cases were all his manuscripts, arranged with care … She was very good at turning up at once some early draft of a poem or play or prose work, or a letter Yeats had received or written ...

Poetry to Thrill an Oyster

Gregory Woods: Fitz-Greene Halleck, 16 November 2000

The American Byron: Homosexuality and the Fall of Fitz-Greene Halleck 
by John W.M. Hallock.
Wisconsin, 226 pp., £14.95, April 2000, 0 299 16804 2
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... called on Halleck on arrival in New York in 1842, but later wrote him off as a mere imitator. Richard Dana thought his ‘Marco Bozzaris’ was America’s best lyric poem. John Quincy Adams referred to one of his poems in a speech to the House of Representatives in 1836. Most inexplicable of all, on 15 May 1877, fifty thousand people gathered in Central ...

Top Grumpy’s Top Hate

Robert Irwin: Richard Aldington’s Gripes, 18 February 1999

Richard Aldington and Lawrence of Arabia: A Cautionary Tale 
by Fred Crawford.
Southern Illinois, 265 pp., £31.95, July 1998, 0 8093 2166 1
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Lawrence the Uncrowned King of Arabia 
by Michael Asher.
Viking, 419 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 670 87029 3
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... very much older before I gathered that there was something not quite right about T.E. Lawrence. Richard Aldington’s Lawrence of Arabia: A Biographical Enquiry, which came out in 1955, denounced its subject as a bastard (literally), a liar, a charlatan and a pervert. It also disparaged the importance and the achievements of the Arab revolt, mocked ...

Grisly Creed

Patrick Collinson: John Wyclif, 22 February 2007

John Wyclif: Myth and Reality 
by G.R. Evans.
Lion, 320 pp., £20, October 2005, 0 7459 5154 6
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... and, with the Black Prince given a terminal prognosis, bracing itself for the first childhood of Richard II. It was embroiled in complex international relations, a collective if not effectively corporate regime dominated by Edward’s fourth son, John of Gaunt. McFarlane’s account is one that Evans, the theologian, cannot hope to match. It was wartime, a ...

The Leg

Oliver Sacks, 17 June 1982

... with an inconceivable rapidity, and are in a perpetual flux and movement’ – and also of Richard Gregory, and his ‘perceptual hypotheses’. The illusions, the apparitions, whatever I should call them, were clearly conjectures, guesses ... perceptual hypotheses. While utterly helpless amid pandemonic illusions, I said fiercely and desperately ...
... mortally ill. He never saw their publication, nor were they published in Russia: he sent them to Richard Gregory in England. They will appear in Gregory’s Oxford Companion to the Mind. Inner difficulties and outer difficulties match each other here. It is not only difficult, it is impossible for patients with ...

Overindulgence

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: A.S. Byatt, 28 November 2002

A Whistling Woman 
by A.S. Byatt.
Chatto, 422 pp., £16.99, September 2002, 0 7011 7380 7
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... hosts is called Through the Looking-Glass, and its pilot episode features Jonathan Miller and Richard Gregory talking animatedly about mirrors and doubles, both of which figure prominently in A Whistling Woman’s own symbolic repertoire. (As she did in Babel Tower, where she brought on Anthony Burgess as a witness for the defence in her ...

A Reparation of Her Choosing

Jenny Diski: Among the Sufis, 17 December 2015

... around the place keeping the planet from exploding. I remember a lecture about Vico, a lecture by Richard Gregory on the physiology of perception, for all the world as if a Pelican book had come to life, and a rather baffled aged British traveller to Eastern Parts, who talked with all the ease of his upbringing of ‘fuzzy wuzzies’ while I squeezed ...

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