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Love of photography as a boy


Difficulty with reading poetry
Oliver Sacks Scientist
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When a film was made about Auden in – I don’t know – '74, '75 they came along to me; I lived in City Island then. They said, 'You must have read all of Auden’s poetry', and I said, 'No, I don’t think I have but I’ve read all of his prose'. I... I have difficulty reading poetry which has got worse and worse with... with age. So, I’m afraid now I... I read almost no poetry and no novels and no plays, only history and biography and science – with a few exceptions, a few exceptions. I didn’t entirely like the Romeo and Juliet we saw together, but I instantly pulled out my Shakespeare and read it.

[Q] Well, I was going to say, you draw on a huge memory, a reservoir of all kinds of literature that you’ve been into throughout your life.

Odds and ends, odds and ends.

Oliver Sacks (1933-2015) was born in England. Having obtained his medical degree at Oxford University, he moved to the USA. There he worked as a consultant neurologist at Beth Abraham Hospital where in 1966, he encountered a group of survivors of the global sleepy sickness of 1916-1927. Sacks treated these patients with the then-experimental drug L-Dopa producing astounding results which he described in his book Awakenings. Further cases of neurological disorders were described by Sacks with exceptional sympathy in another major book entitled The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat which became an instant best seller on its publication in 1985. His other books drew on his rich experiences as a neurologist gleaned over almost five decades of professional practice. Sacks's work was recognized by prestigious institutions which awarded him numerous honours and prizes. These included the Lewis Thomas Prize given by Rockefeller University, which recognizes the scientist as poet. He was an honorary fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and held honorary degrees from many universities, including Oxford, the Karolinska Institute, Georgetown, Bard, Gallaudet, Tufts, and the Catholic University of Peru.

Listeners: Kate Edgar

Kate Edgar, previously Managing Editor at the Summit Books division of Simon and Schuster, began working with Oliver Sacks in 1983. She has served as editor and researcher on all of his books, and has been closely involved with various films and adaptations based on his work. As friend, assistant, and collaborator, she has accompanied Dr Sacks on many adventures around the world, clinical and otherwise.

Tags: Romeo and Juliet, WH Auden, William Shakespeare

Duration: 1 minute, 18 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2011

Date story went live: 02 October 2012