Catherine's Reviews > A Journey Round My Skull

A Journey Round My Skull by Frigyes Karinthy
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Oct 26, 2010

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bookshelves: 2010, medicine, hungary
Read in October, 2010

In his introduction to Karinthy's work, Oliver Sacks states that this is "the first autobiographical description of a journey inside the brain" - and while there are surely qualifiers to attach (in Western literature; in Western form) Karinthy's work does stand as a remarkable look at neurological illness, brain surgery, and treatment in early twentieth century Europe. The book is a muddle of styles - flamboyant description; stripped-bare medical detail; camp gossip - but within that muddle lies the experience of a man struggling to make sense of himself as his consciousness and his physical body are altered. It's fascinating - if a little macabre - to read Karinthy's detailed description of his own brain surgery, especially considering the liberties taken in 1936 that we'd be horrified about today (opening up someone's brain and then wheeling them through the hospital, twice, to be x-rayed and then operated on again, for example. No wonder the man got an infection).

Karinthy couldn't be a more different person than me, by virtue of personality as well as time, place, and culture, but there's something strangely beautiful on his ruminations about the brain and the sense of self that's rooted there. A thought-provoking read.
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