The dust jacket of The Matter With Things quotes a large statement from an Oxford professor: ‘This is one of the most important books ever published. And, yes, I do mean ever.’ Can any contemporary work withstand such praise? The ‘intelligent general reader’ (the book’s target audience) should, however, not be discouraged, for Iain McGilchrist has to be taken seriously: a Fellow of All Souls, eminent in neurology, psychiatry and literary criticism, a thinker and — it’s impossible to avoid the term —a sage. His previous book, The Master and His Emissary, was admired by public figures from Rowan Williams to Philip Pullman. Some consider McGilchrist the most important non-fiction writer of our time.
Such enthusiasm is unusual for the narrow subject of our divided brains.