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December 5, 1986

The Citadel of the Senses and Other Essays

Author Affiliations

University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry Rochester, NY

JAMA. 1986;256(21):3030-3031. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380210126044

It is over 20 years since Macdonald Critchley began his collations,1 and seven since he invited us to The Divine Banquet of the Brain.2 With his new book—to judge it by its cover, which is embossed in the same elegant script as the last one—he intends to prolong the feast, but his 30 essays provide more than a month of sundaes. Critchley never gives his readers just desserts; even his lightest offering shows the courage of his confections. Favorite subjects reappear: aphasia, migraine, neurosyphilis, Samuel Johnson, Hughlings Jackson, and Alphonse Daudet. He continues his fascination with Oscar Wilde.

The writing is lean. Critchley dislikes "bafflegab." He follows one loftysounding quotation with the comment, "Frankly, such a remark means little, and one is left wondering what he was trying to say." He even hints at a resemblance between the babble of a "dement," as quoted in a certain scientific