The Man Who Lost His Language
Hale (Sheila)
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Back Cover Blurb

  1. 'Sheila Hale's piercing book enlarges the language of love. It tells a tale of passion, heroism and rage aroused by her struggle to enable a sensitive erudite man to live without words'
    → Brenda Maddox
  2. The Man Who Lost His Language is both a love story and the story of a quest for medical and scientific knowledge about a common but little-understood illness that could attack any of us, as it attacked the author's husband, John Hale, one of the world's leading historians. A month after he finished writing the book that turned out to be his masterpiece, Hale suffered a stroke which deprived him of the power to speak or to write.
  3. Hale's stroke was so massive that he was at first written off by doctors as a hopeless case. But his wife, Sheila, was determined to find out what had happened to her husband and how he might be brought back to as normal a life as possible.
  4. This beautifully, often dramatically, written book conveys with raw honesty the extremes of emotion and behaviour — rage and contentment, desperation and dignity — that affect people disabled by stroke and those who love and care for them. It gives an accessible account of what is known about stroke and what impaired speech tells us about the relationship between language and intelligence1 — and how much we all communicate without words. Sheila Hale convincingly and grippingly brings together the personal and the universal. The result is a small, unclassifiable masterpiece.

Amazon Book Description
  1. John Hale was one of the world's foremost Renaissance historians. Soon after delivering the second draft of the text of his masterpiece, The Civilization of Europe in the Renaissance, Hale had a stroke that deprived him of the power of speech.
  2. His wife Sheila set out to find out what had happened and how John might be brought back to normal as far as possible. Her book gives a moving account of what it is like when a partner suffers a stroke and a sympathetic lay person's assessment of what is known about aphasia2. But it is also an exploration of what aphasia3 can tell us about the nature of language, and how we construct our lives through it.

Book Comment

Alan Lane / Penguin, 2002

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2024
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

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