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A Leg to Stand On: release and reviews


Luria's conciseness
Oliver Sacks Scientist
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I had an intense correspondence with Luria until his death, although alas, I... I never met him. He could be very much to the point when he wanted to and when I was... I wrote to him when I was in hospital with my leg. I felt he was the only man... this is the only man in the world who might understand what is going on and with whom I can communicate. And there were intense letters about this, and I was then hovering about... should I write about it, should I not, and Luria sent me a telegram containing four letters, or two words, 'Do it'. The shortest, concisest telegram I ever had. I did do it, but it... it took another 10 years.

The... Duncan Dallas wanted to meet Luria and the mnemonist. Duncan had made one documentary with BF Skinner, then the one with me, and he wanted to do a third one with... with Luria, but Luria said the mnemonist was... had died in the interim and... and that he himself was not in good health.

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: The Mind of a Mnemonist, Alexander Romanovich Luria, Duncan Dallas

Duration: 1 minute, 31 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2011

Date story went live: 02 October 2012