Book: Professor's Daughter by R. Igor Gamow
|5 stars based on the 3 most helpful Amazon reviews|
Igor Gamowabout this book: Of all the great disappointments that I had suffered over these many years my first and greatest was when I learned that my childhood heroes were fictional. This included a bevy of individuals almost too many to name such as the Lone Ranger, Robin Hood, King Arthur, the Hardy Boys and even Nancy Drew. Upon this realization, I assumed that since I was a child, these fictional characters were created for children. But if I read stories written for, let us say, my parents, these stories would depict real people and real events. Almost every evening of my childhood, after I was put to bed, my parents would read to each other.
At the time of my revelation, they were reading the collected stories of Somerset Maugham. I randomly read a story from their book entitled, The Colonel's Lady. I was tremendously moved.The entire story was only ten pages, so I read it in one sitting. The highlight of the story is when the colonel discovered that his wife, with whom he had basically a loveless marriage, had written a book of poems entitled When Pyramids Decay that had suddenly become a best seller. The poems describe a middle-aged married woman who had a love affair with a much younger man. The young man suddenly dies, leaving the women devastated. These poems appear to represent a love affair that the colonel's wife had actually had. She published the book using her maiden name, never dreaming that the book would ever see the light of day, much less be a bestseller.
The colonel had two problems. First, he could not imagine that anyone would have an affair with his mousy wife. Second, if in fact she had had such an affair, he wanted revenge. I'm sure that I only vaguely understood the male problem back then
It was from that time on that I decided that not only what I was reading was not real, but nothing was real. What we now call reality was just an illusion of reality. This is hardly a new revelation. Many years later in college, I learned that Plato had made a similar assumption.
So, if nothing really exists, then the natural extension of this statement is that all nonfiction books, such as history books, biographies and memoirs are, in fact, fiction. It is only our illusion that there is a difference between fact and fiction. In other words, fact and fiction may be different in degree but not in kind. So I think of this book, Professor's Daughter, as a fictional memoir. Deliciously redundant wouldn't you say?
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