Germs: A Memoir of Childhood by Richard Wollheim - review by Diana Athill

Diana Athill

Sick in the Suburbs

Germs: A Memoir of Childhood


The Waywiser Press 264pp £10.99

‘To remarks overheard, and to things unexpectedly seen, particularly in hot weather, of which I have had more than my fill, I have given a finality, going well beyond what their content, however dramatic, might warrant.’

That sentence, with its careful exactitude (slightly laborious because of all those commas) and the disconcerting oddness of ‘particularly in hot weather’, gives a hint of what an odd book this is.

Richard Wollheim's background was far from likely to produce the distinguished philosopher he became. His fastidiously dandified father, born to a rich Jewish family in Breslau, was a theatrical impresario who worked closely with Diaghilev and brought many famous artists to England, where he settled in 1900. Early in the

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