SACKS, Oliver. Awakenings. London: Picador, 1991.
8vo. Paperback card wrappers; pp. [ix], x-xxxix, [iv], 4-408; with a few leaves after black and white photographs; author's gift inscription in purple felt pen to title; light creasing to lower panel; paper stock evenly toned, as is common, else near-fine. Provenance: directly from the collection of Elizabeth Chase, Sack's niece.
First paperback edition thus, inscribed by Oliver to his niece: 'For Liz, with love, Olly. 3/91.' Oliver acknowledged Elizabeth as the source title of one of his books – Seeing Voices. She has warm memories of her uncle reading from Awakenings to her. On his trips to London, she says, “he would visit his brother Michael and I would wait in the car, reading and annotating his latest work in proof.”
First published in 1973, Awakenings was one of Sacks' breakthrough works, which chronicled the life histories of those who had been victims of the 1920s encephalitis lethargica epidemic. The book was subsequently made into a film starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro, with this paperback cover echoing the theatrical release poster. The image shows a photograph taken on Sacks' City Island home in New York. Having read the book in prior to his death in 1973, W. H. Auden wrote, "have read the book and think it a masterpiece". The playright Harold Pinter was also sufficiently inspired by the work to adapt it into a one-act play, A Kind of Alaska, which premiered at the Cottesloe theatre (now Dorfman) in 1982, starring Judi Dench.