Of Intellect and Isolation

SWonder_5ince Leigh Anna picked up Beresford’s The Wonder, I thought I’d go back and read it myself. I’ve been intrigued by the idea of an intellectually gifted child as a threat, but was not expecting to see it play out as it does here.

I envied Victor his facility with logic and synthesis, even his
ability to read at inhuman speeds, but I know all too well how it feels
to be held behind one’s potential for the sake of age, or, gaining
ground, to be considered incapable of emotional maturity.

Thus, unlike Lewes, I felt no need to shake young Victor for his ignorance of human emotion. His
experiences of it were hardly worth mentioning, being an abhorred,
isolated freak from the beginning. The narrator’s first experience of
looking into the child’s eyes left an impression of dangerous ennui.
Imagine those too adult images of Jesus in the Madonna’s lap from
Byzantine or early Renaissance paintings. Disproportionate, balanced in
his mother’s lap, and completely incongruous, he strikes multiple
reactions from the observers described by the narrator. The narrator’s
own struck closest to home. Denial. Trepidation. Curiosity.

For anyone not forced to read Flowers for Algernon in a
classroom setting, for those struck by the conflict Charlie suffers at
the peak of his intellectual ability, and for those who empathize with
his inability to maintain human relationships with anyone legitimately
interested in his thoughts, this will ring true.

For any of us who ever wished to own every book in the world—better yet read
every book in the world—and felt that final disappointment of the
realization that it was impossible, this is one to add to your
ambitious list.

For those of us who’ll keep trying to make sense of it all, despite
our dependence on this slippery, clumsy medium of words, this is for us.


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