The evolution of psychiatric treatment is explored through the
intertwined lives of two 19th-century men.Faulks's epic is as
daunting as the path of his main characters. Frenchman Jacques
Rebiere, fascinated by science, is brother to Olivier, whose slow
descent into madness from middle childhood drives Jacques's search
for answers. Englishman Thomas Midwinter is desperate to escape the
life planned out for him by his domineering parents. Early in their
period of discovery, the two cross paths in a chance meeting
precipitated by Sonia, Thomas's older sister. The men's
conversation through their language barrier is the start of a long
and productive partnership. Faulks (On Green Dolphin Street, 2002,
etc.) takes great care in constructing his latest work to fit the
narrative style of the period of which he writes. He uses lengthy
scenes and a vast array of characters. Perspective shifts
occasionally seem awkward: third-person narrative, letters, journal
entries, first-person perspective, speeches. The story tracks the
nascent profession across Europe and around the world. Each man is
on an individual search for meaning, and their experiences run the
gamut of dramatic moments. There are loves lost and found, career
successes and failure, times of camaraderie and of estrangement.
Behind the players, Faulks explores the evolution of thought about
. . . thought. The time period covers the shedding of the old ways
of thinking and the shift to a new respect for the power of the
human mind. The change was arduous at times. The central theme for
the author seems to be the delicate balance between the strength of
the human spirit and the frailty of human emotion. Logic and reason
will be challenged by love in all its forms. Though the work is
somewhat confined by the period framework, Faulks paints a tableux
of 19th-century life that is remarkably revealing.Epic in scope,
this is an imaginative look at the rise of medicine for the mind.
Human Traces explores the question of what kind of beings men and
women really are. Jacques Rebiere and Thomas Midwinter, both
sixteen when the story starts in 1876, come from different
countries and contrasting families. They are united by an ambition
to understand how the mind works and whether madness is the price
we pay for being human. As psychiatrists, their quest takes them
from the squalor of the Victorian lunatic asylum to the crowded
lecture halls of the renowned Professor Charcot in Paris; from the
heights of the Sierra Madre in California to the plains of
unexplored Africa. Their search is made urgent by the case of
Jacques's brother Olivier, for whose severe illness no name has yet
been found. Thomas's sister Sonia becomes the pivotal figure in the
volatile relationship between the two men, which threatens to
explode with the arrival in their Austrian sanatorium of an
enigmatic patient, Fraulein Katharina von A, whose illness
epitomises all that divides them. As the concerns of the old
century fade and the First World War divides Europe, the novel
rises to a climax in which the value of what it means to be alive
seems to hang in the balance. This is Sebastian Faulks's most
ambitious novel yet, with scenes of emotional power recalling his
most celebrated work, yet set here on an even larger scale
Is the information for this product incomplete, wrong or inappropriate?
Let us know about it.
Does this product have an incorrect or missing image?
Send us a new image.
Is this product missing categories?
Add more categories.
Review This Product
No reviews yet - be the first to create one!