Read A Journey Round My Skull by Frigyes Karinthy Vernon Duckworth Barker Oliver Sacks Online

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The distinguished Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy was sitting in a Budapest café, wondering whether to write a long-planned monograph on modern man or a new play, when he was disturbed by the roaring—so loud as to drown out all other noises—of a passing train. Soon it was gone, only to be succeeded by another. And another. Strange, Karinthy thought, it had been years sinThe distinguished Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy was sitting in a Budapest café, wondering whether to write a long-planned monograph on modern man or a new play, when he was disturbed by the roaring—so loud as to drown out all other noises—of a passing train. Soon it was gone, only to be succeeded by another. And another. Strange, Karinthy thought, it had been years since Budapest had streetcars. Only then did he realize he was suffering from an auditory hallucination of extraordinary intensity. What in fact Karinthy was suffering from was a brain tumor, not cancerous but hardly benign, though it was only much later—after spells of giddiness, fainting fits, friends remarking that his handwriting had altered, and books going blank before his eyes—that he consulted a doctor and embarked on a series of examinations that would lead to brain surgery. Karinthy’s description of his descent into illness and his observations of his symptoms, thoughts, and feelings, as well as of his friends’ and doctors’ varied responses to his predicament, are exact and engrossing and entirely free of self-pity. A Journey Round My Skull is not only an extraordinary piece of medical testimony, but a powerful work of literature—one that dances brilliantly on the edge of extinction....

Title : A Journey Round My Skull
Author :
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ISBN : 9781590172582
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 312 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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A Journey Round My Skull Reviews

  • William1
    2019-03-20 13:09

    Who did the photo editing for this particular New York Review Book? My God, it's dreadful, and by far the most off-putting aspect of the book. The book itself is a fascinating autobiographical account by a well-known member of Hungary's pre-WW II literati who discovers that he has a brain tumor. The text itself is an interesting blend of travel writing, medical memoir, cultural observation, and philosophical inquiry. Karinthy is interested in the effect of his tumor on everything, not just himself. There's an interesting passage on the reporting of his surgery in the Budapest newspapers, he is in Stockholm by this time, and the effect it has on a number of his friends and coworkers. He was a popular figure at the time in Hungary (1934), particularly known for his comic parodies of fellow writers. Because so many physicians were in his circle, he was actually prevented from getting a prompt diagnosis. Karinthy self-diagnosed rather early on. His medical friends, including his physician wife, when he told them of his conclusions were always 'Oh, come off it!' Today we have MRIs and CT scans. Diagnosis is fairly easy. For Karinthy in his day there were no such technologies. The diagnosis was made by inference alone and it took a long time. The neurologist Oliver Sacks provides the introduction here. For him, a clinician who writes highly readable popular books about the brain and its functioning, Karinthy's penchant for "long digressions, philosophical and literary" and "a certain amount of fanciful contrivance and extravagance" are faults. My view is otherwise. I see these flights as providing fascinating insight into the mental and emotional condition of the writer/patient. I admire Sacks' own books and have read them avidly, but Karinthy's is a more literary alternative to his staunchly clinical and amply footnoted narratives. Especially enjoyable are the glimpses of cafe society before WW II in Budapest, Hungary: the walks Karinthy takes through its streets and parks. Karinthy survived his surgery and lived another two years before dying of a stroke in 1936. He did not live to see the Anschluss or the German entry into the Sudetenland. He was never to know how the Nazi threat would unfold and all but destroy the continent. Naturally, he was seriously preoccupied. Yet I found his obliviousness to the growing threat of fascism fascinating and it has made me wonder if it wasn't perhaps indicative of a broader public mindset. There is no criticism of the Nazis, just a sense of eerie foreboding when Karinthy finds himself passing through Germany on his way to Stockholm for the surgery (performed by the pioneering Dr. Olivecrona). Highly recommended though not for the squeamish or faint of heart.

  • Kathrina
    2019-03-17 15:45

    I'll first list some interesting things I've learned about Karinthy:--He was the first to posit the idea that any two people on earth are joined by six degrees of separation, an idea that seems almost ludicrous before the computer age.--The cafe in which he performed most of his writing, including Journey, is called the Central Cafe, and still functions as it always has. I'm making a point to visit it on our trip to Budapest. --In Journey, Karinthy makes a seemingly off-hand allusion to his first wife reading about the Spanish influenza epidemic in the newspaper. This quick glimpse is all the more poignant on learning that his beloved wife died of said influenza. --After all this poor man suffered in removing a brain tumor, what a tragedy to discover he died of unrelated stroke just two years later at the age of, what, 49?And now, the Journey...Karinthy is pitch-perfect in describing some rather arbitrary perceptions from such a unique perspective. He can so easily observe himself from the outside, explaining his exact thought process of discovering the new tics of a brain invaded by tumor. He does go on a bit about some dreams that are, at times, insightful, and at other times, perhaps a bit out of focus, but what's so impressive is his ability to recall reality alongside of dream at such a time when his brain could hardly feel all that reliable. He likes to tangent off topic, and he certainly maintains an ego which I perceive even his wife found trying. By far the most powerful section is of the surgery itself; be prepared for the high whining sound of a drill on one's skull while maintaining full consciousness, the crack of bone that shakes one's whole skeleton. And perhaps the most sentimental and poetic section arrives just at the end, as Karinthy puts his experience into perspective as the life of an artist, the life of a Hungarian patriot, the life of a European headed into a furious war that could not yet be named, shipwrecked but alive.

  • Bilalante
    2019-02-19 14:01

    Önce duygumu, yani kitabı çok sevdiğimi ifade edeyim. Bunun yanında her zaman kullanmakta imtina ettiğim "ilginç", "tuhaf" ve "değişik" gibi ifadeleri de bu otobiyografik roman için kullanmakta beis görmüyorum. Beyninde tümör olan biri konuşuyor romanda. Tuhaflık dediğim şey belki bundandır. Ama durun belki de gerçek tuhaflık bendedir. Çünkü romanı okurken "A öyle mi?" "Hiç böyle düşünmemiştim" "olamaz böyle bir şey" dediğim çok oldu. Yani aslında şimdiye kadar niye böyle şeyler aklıma gelmedi deyip, hayıflanıp kendime dönmeliydim. "Ne güzel bir ifade!" diye imrendiğim altını çizme konusunda tembel davrandığım birçok bölüm oldu ayrıca.Eleştirel bakmaya çalışayım dedim ama yazar bana otur oturduğun yerde diyor gibiydi. Hasta bir zihnin bu derece berrak ifadeleri başvurması ve bilincinin bu derece yerinde olması yeryüzündeki tüm okurlar tarafından yadırganabilirdi çünkü... Şimdi bu yorumu okuyan herkese bir kelime öğreteceğim: Lucidus. Anlamı ruh hastasının bilincinin kimi zaman yerine geldiği an. Yani bir deli her zaman deli değildir. Delilerin bizler kadar normal olduğu anlar çok var. Sayemde bilgi dağarcığınızı zenginleştirirken bizim yazarımızı Frici'nin (Frigyes aslında ama kendimize yakın bulduğumuz için biz Frici diyeceğiz romanın ahalisi gibi) de bilincinin yerinde olduğu anlar olduğunu hatırlatalım. Muhtemelen yazma işini de o vakitler yani lucidus evresinde  yapıyor... Halüsinasyonlar, başdönmeleri, nöbetler, baygınlık halleri, chirurgia gibi durumları rahatsızlığı boyunca sık sık yaşıyor hastamız... Chirurgia ne mi? Ansiklopedik ilerliyoruz biraz ama yine de cevap vereyim: Bir eşgüdüm kusuru, yani hareketlerin amaca uygun olmayan bir şekilde cereyan etmesi.Tuhaflık biraz da yazarın vücuduyla daha ziyade beyniyle kurduğu ilişki ve bu sayede dış dünyayla nasıl bir ilişki kurduğu üzerinde kafa yormasıdır. Çoğu zaman bu mizahi bir hal alırken. Çevresindeki insanlarla "beyni" sayesinde ilişki kurması da tuhafına gidiyor. Çünkü tıp dünyası onunla değil beyniyle ilgileniyordu. "Söz konusu olan benim beynim ve yine beynim. Benden tek söz edilmiyor. Burada oturan dört adamın dördü de beni seviyor, tıpkı benim onları sevdiğim gibi; içlerinden birisine ise, benimsenmesi ve değer vermenin de ötesinde kardeşçe bir zarafetle, çözümlenmesi olanaksız bir cazibeyle ilgi duyuyordum..." O da beynini tanımak için çaba sarfediyor. Araştırıyor, içine bakıyor kadavraların, mikroskoptaki o tuhaf madde ve yapıları inceliyor. Her bölümün bir fonksiyonu olması duygu ve düşüncelerini yönlendiriyor olması ona büyülü geliyor. Ameliyat olacağını bilmesi de onu hiç ürkütmüyordu, hatta bundan gizli bir zevk aldığı bile söylenebilirdi. "İşlemin gaddarlığı beni sarıyordu. Vahşice bir zevkle kendimi bırakıyordum, sanki yardım etmek ister gibi." Ameliyatı sırasındaki düşünceleriydi son söylediklerim. Bu hale geldi en nihayetinde hastamız, üstelik başlangıçta panik düğmesine basmadı değil...Son olarak ben de Macar edebiyatını sonradan keşfedenlerdenim, son halkası da Frigyes Karinthy oldu. Oliver Sacks okuyup beğenenlere de bu kitabı kaçırmamalarını dilerim. Onlara gözüm kapalı bir şekilde öneririm.

  • Meaghan
    2019-03-20 13:02

    People interested in medicine and the history of medicine will enjoy this memoir by a middle-aged man who had a benign brain tumor removed in 1936. Karinthy, a Hungarian writer and journalist, was a bit of a celebrity in his native country and it was thanks to his social connections that he was able to be operated on by one of the best brain surgeons in the world. But the operation and Karinthy's recovery are only a small part of the book; he also covers in detail the months leading up to the operation, beginning when he first experienced symptoms. What followed were visits to many different doctors who misdiagnosed him and pooh-poohed his concerns. (Sound familiar?) Karinthy actually diagnosed himself long before his doctors did.The tumor skewed Karinthy's perception and he often hallucinated noises, images and even entire events. The way he writes about these periods, the reader is often unsure as to what is real and what is not. It makes for a somewhat jarring experience, but also helps the reader see just what he was going through.Certainly this isn't for the average reader, but those who like works by people like Oliver Sacks (who wrote the intro to this memoir) will enjoy A Journey Round My Skull.

  • Sam Bissell
    2019-02-20 19:03

    I can't remember what drew me to this book because, ordinarily, I wouldn't have bought it, so it must have been a referral from looking up another book. Having finished it at all is a testament to it's being a great book despite the odd title. I believe I chose it because the spiel sounded interesting: "he was disturbed by the roaring—so loud as to drown out all other noises—of a passing train. Soon it was gone, only to be succeeded by another. And another. Strange, Karinthy thought, it had been years since Budapest had streetcars. Only then did he realize he was suffering from an auditory hallucination of extraordinary intensity." I suffer from an auditory ailment known commonly as tinnitus or a ringing in the ears, and I have suffered from it as long as I can remember; in fact, I recall being a little kid and standing in a silent forest and wondering "Is this what silence is? This loud ringing?" So, I bought the book based solely on that comment! Curiously enough for me, it is a non-fiction book, which is a type of book I rarely read, if at all; 90% of the time, I read fiction because I can escape through it. While it took me a bit to get into the book....I read the first third of the book then put it down because I was unsure of it, read something else but became bored by what I was reading and picked it back up because i was drawn to it. I kept thinking "where is he going with describing his condition, what exactly is happening?" As it turned out, the spot where I left the book was the spot where the book was really getting going. Still though, being drawn into Karinthy's world is difficult to describe because he goes off on tangents of conversations with his friends...and friends who aren't actually in the room with him. So, not only auditory hallucinations but visual as well. The long and the short of his story is that Karinthy was suffering from a brain tumor and his world had been turned topsy turvy in all aspects...spells of giddiness, fainting fits, friends remarking that his handwriting had altered, and books going blank before his eyes. He eventually was diagnosed and the road to brain surgery, which took him from his home in Budapest, Hungary to Stockholm, Sweden, is the basis for the remainder of the book. Reading about his journey into what can never be described as madness, spells of giddiness, fainting fits, friends remarking that his handwriting had altered, and books going blank before his eyes describes everything that he can about the days leading up to, and after, his brain operation. In fact, the account of the day before and immediate moments after the operation are quite compelling: the fact that he was able to remember what happened within hours after it make for interesting reading on its own!I'd love to say that I recommend this book to everyone but frankly, I can't see everyone loving it like I did. Part of the reason I was drawn to it is the fact that my own Father died of inoperable brain cancer and I was interested to see what he may have witnessed (however, in my Father's case, he lost his concept of words almost immediately, whereas Karinthy never lost his concept of words). More than that, though, I was drawn to envelop myself in Karinthy's explanations of his symptoms, thoughts, and feelings, as well as of his friends’ and doctors’ varied responses to his predicament. A Journey Round My Skull is not only an extraordinary piece of medical testimony, but a powerful work of literature—one that dances brilliantly "on the edge of extinction".

  • Ali
    2019-03-05 11:49

    So... This one goes back to the bookshelf for a while. I hope to re-read it, or actually, read it in a bit.It's not bad. It's quite interesting actually.But this time it just didn't strike the right cord with me, so I abandoned it after 60-odd pages.

  • Nathaniel
    2019-02-22 17:50

    In recognition of its thoroughness and accuracy, book store franchises shelve this memoir in the medical section, though it reads like literature. Frigyes Karinthy was a well known and much respected writer and humorist in Budapest in the 1930s when he began to suffer from intensifying auditory hallucinations. These disturbances initiate his progression through the medical establishments of Budapest, Vienna and Stockholm. In parallel, his symptoms accumulate, prompt various misdiagnoses (such as nicotine poisoning), assorted treatments of dubious value (topical applications of a mercury compound) and the gradual realization, on the part of all people concerned, that he has a tumor growing on his brain that will first blind and then kill him within the year if it is not removed.Because of his prominence as a writer, rumor of his ill health travels widely and fast, which gives Karinthy the opportunity to be both self-reflective and socially observant. People from all walks of Hungarian life absorb the news of his affliction in different ways and Karinthy is careful to note how their behavior changes and how it makes him feel—not in a morose or self-pitying fashion; but matter-of-factly and with wit. There is space for his fear and suffering in the book; but the following excepts typify how he chooses to present it: “It got on my nerves, too, that I kept walking with my feet turned in and that, as my sight was bad, I could not see to correct my step and was constantly going into the gutter or knocking against the wall. And that I kept lurking shamefacedly in a corner or hiding for hours in a cold lavatory.”“When I put my questions I used medical terms, culled from my reading. I did not ask her what the cowering, terrified Being that lurked somewhere behind my tumor was so plaintively asking me below the threshold of consciousness.”Since Karinthy writes this account for serialized publication after his recovery, each of the chapters has a brisk, cohesive thrust and each of them benefits from the equilibrium and joy of someone on the far side of misfortune. Karinthy is also playful and experimental in the composition of his chapters, engaging with dreams and hallucinations and toying with time and simultaneous occurrences. The book never slows and is a fascinating time capsule, wonderfully stuffed by a winning and clever man.

  • Leniw
    2019-03-05 14:02

    4 or 5 stars? I am not sure yet.This was a very powerful read. True to its title, it was a journey inside a skull and mind. Having lost a relative from brain cancer, I found this quite difficult to read at some points. Apart from that it was really interesting. The writing style was excellent.In the end I felt that I truly knew this person. I love it when a book has this effect on me. It makes a connection, a real bond.

  • Emanuella
    2019-03-15 19:00

    Такава книга не бях чела - автобиография, репортаж, есе, мемоари, роман - от всичко по малко... Как е успял да запише всички мисли, усещания и впечатления преди, по време на операцията на главата и след това, че и с чувство за хумор... Много интересен унгарски автор!

  • Catherine
    2019-03-01 19:10

    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.

  • Hannah
    2019-03-08 20:12

    A Journey Round My Skull by distinguished Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy is an extraordinary non-fiction account of the author's diagnosis, treatment, and recovery from a brain tumor in 1936. Karinthy begins his book with the experience of his first symptom. As he sits in a cafe in Budapest contemplating the next literary work to produce, he hears the roaring of a train. He is surprised; when did the last trains in the city disappear? When he looks up and sees that no one else seems to have heard the sound, it slowly becomes clear to him that he was experiencing an auditory hallucination. As the days passed by, Karinthy's symptoms increased. He continued to hear trains--and those hallucinations were joined by fainting and retching, giddiness, and eventually a loss of vision.While the topic of this book sounds tragic and depressing, it is anything but. Karinthy is a master at satire, at gentle loving humor, and also at what feels like disinterested character analysis. He doesn't have a shred of pity for himself. His tale is not a simple account of what it was like for him to survive a brain tumor in early-twentieth-century Hungary. Instead it is a sweeping story full of philosophical musings, medical history, personal reflection and analysis, and a great deal of humor. It is the story of a man who is trying to make sense of what is to him a new self and a new world.Some of the most powerful discussions in A Journey Round My Skull are Karinthy's stories of how medical professionals immediately saw "a case" rather than "a person" once they heard his diagnosis. Groups of physicians and students would congregate around him, all coming "to join the fun" as Karinthy puts it. "My congratulations! A really admirable diagnosis!" said one physician to another. When the patient raised his voice and spoke up, "it was as if they had only just realized that [he] was one of the party."Karinthy's tumor was non-cancerous. Neurosurgeons often avoid the use of the word "benign" when classifying non-cancerous brain tumors since they so frequently have such severe consequences. In Karinthy's case, the expected outcome of his tumor was a quick death. The author recounts how his doctors as well as his friends and coworkers--and even his readers--reacted to his prognosis. These stories are among the most insightful parts of the book.Oliver Sacks, the author of such amazing books as The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat and Awakenings, writes in the introduction to Karinthy's book that the memoir had a profound affect on him as a young boy of thirteen or fourteen. It is easy to see how Sacks's phenomenally humanistic portrayals of how the mind works--and how it can go awry--were sparked by reading A Journey Round My Skull.

  • Aveugle Vogel
    2019-02-20 15:52

    "indifferent water"

  • Peter
    2019-02-25 15:53

    If you don’t already know what a trephine is, this book will give you a memorable encounter with one. (Although any encounter with one promises to be memorable, as it is a rather primitive-looking surgical instrument with a single disagreeable purpose: to bore a circular hole through one’s skull.) And if you don’t have a brain tumor (most of you, I hope), this book will give you an idea of what it might be like. At first, there is the suspicion that something is wrong, but frighteningly soon there is the certainty that something is wrong. Karinthy’s body betrays him most ruthlessly: he cannot walk straight; he vomits regularly; he has auditory hallucinations; he can no longer read; yet he clings to denial with ever more elaborate methods of coping as though these symptoms are perfectly explainable and not too terribly unlikely or unfortunate while his friends look on curiously. In fact, he hardly finds this experience frightening at all. Eventually he succumbs to the haphazard pursuit of self-diagnosis (it’s easy to imagine him online now, scanning medical forums and idly googling his symptoms) and determines, correctly!, that he has a brain tumor.There is a good deal of dry, dark humor involved by this point, at which Karinthy, a famous member of the Hungarian literati of the 1930s, excels in a most understated way. There are, for example, the constant, awkward conversations with family, friends, and the hospital staff and other patients and even himself, knowing he is afflicted and wondering whether the person he’s talking to (even himself) knows and what they make of it. But the bemusement doesn’t last once he’s in the operating room. Most terrifying are the nightmares and visual hallucinations that merge with reality in ways that make an actual encounter with a trephine sound like a consolation. Readers curious about the surgery itself will not be disappointed.Karinthy’s memoir of this ordeal is fascinating, though I wouldn’t call it gripping, and serves the connotations of the title well. While the writing/translation is strong and we get a healthy glimpse into 1930s neurosurgery from a patient’s perspective (perhaps the most remarkable thing is he resists wallowing in the despair of his condition—it doesn’t seem to occur to him), at almost 300 pages this book would have benefitted with a break here and there from a narrative that sometimes verges on monotony. But I can hardly fault him for that. In the NYRB edition, no less an authority than Oliver Sacks provides some context and commentary in the introduction. Highly recommended, but maybe think twice if you’re susceptible to health anxiety.

  • Yuri Faenza
    2019-02-26 16:12

    The Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy tells the story of his brain tumour, from the first symptoms to the successful surgical operation that led to its removal. The author reconstructs the events using his annotations from the period, enriching them with his humoristic style and the cheerfulness of someone who was able to survive such a terrible illness. Everything starts with the annoying noise of some trains, that sounded real but were in fact only in the author's head. It continues with smaller and bigger symptoms - headaches, view problems, vomiting - and wrong diagnosis. The most impressive symptom is probably the sense of detachment from reality that abruptly descends upon him one day, while sitting in a cafe: Why did he feel that this reality was, in fact, unreal? Was the mirror in front of him moving? Wasn't everything else in the room rotating around the mirror?As the tale goes on, we learn about the atmosphere of Hungarian cafes of the period - mid 1930s - and the intellectual life that animated them. About the high opinion that everybody (including himself) had of Karinthy, admired and loved with the passion that people nowadays reserve to popstars. His friends will find for him the best surgeon - a Swedish - and pay for the trip to Stockholm and the surgery. The passages on the removal of the tumour - done with the patient awake, but experiencing some kind of out-of-body experience - are among the most charming of the book.This book is not just a precise description of the evolution of a tumour. It is the story of a self-confident, strong man losing everything and gaining unexpectedly everything again. It is told with humour and with a pleasant style, even if less brilliant than what I expected and I read in some other comments. This may be a fault of the translation (I read the Italian version).

  • Jdu FFH
    2019-03-13 13:13

    Karinthy goes to the doctor and gets surgery on his brain tumor. In 2015, this would make an super-extraordinary writer to make this fact into an exciting novel. In Karinthy's time, brain surgery was almost unheard of, you had to travel by train through Nazi Germany to reach the Swedish doctor who could perform such an operation, and you had to stumble upon the Hungarian doctors who even knew of such a thing as brain surgery and diagnose you with it.Karinthy describes this process, from the first strange noises he hears to the succesful operation, in great detail and in an entertaining way. You feel the character takes a giant leap from 19th Austro-Hungarian cafe culture into 20th century medical progress. He describes it matter-of-factly, even entertaining, as a number of inevitable small steps for an ill man.

  • Mark
    2019-02-18 19:02

    While sitting in a Budapest café, writer Frigyes Karinthy (1887–1938) suddenly heard the roaring of a train, without there being a train station nearby. The roaring noise he heard over and over again turned out to be an auditory hallucination, and the writer’s calvary began.Even though he fainted on several occasions and his eyesight deteriorated severely, first neither he nor his doctors suspected serious illness. But as his symptoms became more and more severe, he arrived at the conclusion that he must have brain tumor. The self-diagnosis proved to be right (”I went from humorist to tumorist”, he recounted later), and he soon left for Stockholm to be operated by the most famous neurosurgeon of his times, Herbert Olivecrona.

  • Jim
    2019-03-19 19:46

    A fascinating book by a Hungarian author describing the onset of a brain tumor in Budapest in the 1930s, and how his case came to be properly diagnosed after visiting many physicians there and in Vienna. Finally, when the diagnosis of a tumor in the cerebellum is made, he is sent to Dr. Olivecrona in Stockholm, Sweden, to actually perform the surgery. He recovered completely -- a real raity in those days -- only to die two years later of a stroke while stooping down to tie his shoelaces. Karinthy was noted as a writer of satires and dramas and was able to describe every step of what happened to him with great wit and analytical ability. Highly recommended.

  • John
    2019-02-18 18:56

    very interesting first-hand perspective read from someone who survived early modern brain surgery. karinthy's story traces his early symptoms through to the actual surgery. his metaphors and descriptions of the hallucinations, pains and general experiences are enlightening and relevant. he considers the scientific without getting away from the human. it bogs a bit in the middle when he's finally worried some about the surgery, but otherwise the flow is good and the story + his thought processes are heady (sic) and engaging.major hat tip on the translation. having read a few texts translated from magyar, it's clearly not the easiest language to convey into english.

  • Dave
    2019-03-15 16:10

    A neat book--Karinthy was a Hungarian humorist/journalist/etc., so the book about his brain tumor and operation reads a little like James Thurber. A closer comparison might be Joseph Heller/Speed Vogel's "No Laughing Matter," but with fantasy sequences and creative descriptions, this is a much more interesting book (though I wouldn't call it funny--the humor is dated and James Thurber is better). The later chapters--when he gets a little less goofy and a little more scared--are actually better, particularly the chapter on the surgery itself. Not to be read at lunch.

  • Patrick
    2019-02-18 15:01

    Karinthy was a journalist/essayist, and this book does a good job of getting at the experience of what it's like to have a brain tumor, as well as the denial, misdiagnosis, fear, and lack of human concern that individuals with a serious illness face. The author is not a great stylist, and seems more intent on amusing himself than addressing his emotions directly; as such, this account is not compelling, but it's still worth a look.

  • Lis
    2019-03-03 18:09

    Un documento molto interessante in cui viene raccontata dall'interno come una malattia così critica è stata scoperta e affrontata. L'Autore descrive con lucidità ma anche ironia come si è reso conto di essere malato, i suoi dubbi, le sue paure, i suoi stati d'animo.Non gli do il massimo dei voti solo perchè ogni tanto si concede alcune divagazioni filosofiche che mi sono sembrate superflue.

  • Patrizia Bianchi Marini
    2019-03-02 18:08

    Ho trovato il libro molto interessante, forse anche perché scritto in altri tempi. La personalità dello scrittore, nonché protagonista, gioca indubbiamente un ruolo fondamentale nella storia oltre che nello stile narrativo; nessun altro avrebbe potuto affrontare la malattia in quel modo.

  • Luke
    2019-02-26 15:02

    This book is very interesting. It was a first hand account of a brain tumor surgery. It can be very wordy at some times. I would recommend this book to someone that doesn't know what book to read next.

  • Ffiamma
    2019-02-18 15:11

    racconto lucido, drammatico e ironico di una malattia e della conseguente operazione. qualche volo pindarico, ma un libro impressionante, letterario, intelligente. piccolo classico della letteratura ungherese anni 30. (grazie andrea!)

  • Pete
    2019-03-10 16:55

    This book is great, the author writes about his experience living through (though eventually dying from) a brain tumor. Amazing descriptions of brain surgery while conscious. Read this one while my dog was dying of a brain tumor, sad, strange...

  • Emese
    2019-02-19 17:49

    Karinthy, always. Too bad the world won't know his genious for the lack of translations and the impossible task of translating the full depth of his writing. He is Vonegut and Huxley and Defoe and so much more than all of them combined.

  • Valerie Osbourn
    2019-02-23 18:54

    This book was good, in a medical way. Maybe it was the translation but the writing was at once dry and flowery. I could have skipped the first 3/4 of the book, as it did not add much. The operation itself, as told from the patient was fascinating. Apart from that it was a bit...bland.

  • Joana
    2019-03-08 17:10

    On Crusoe's island (...) I see now that there is little point in crying out against injustice of man or the cruelty of fate, for, if my friend betrays and my brother in arms deceive me, a foreigner whom I never knew comes forward and saves my life.

  • Niko
    2019-02-23 19:15

    Interesting book, at moments a bit hard to follow author's train of thought. Took me a while to read it, but was well worth the effort.

  • Mary
    2019-03-20 14:55

    do ILL