A few weeks ago I ordered from Abebooks.com, a book by W. Russell Brain called Mind, Perception and Science. I had read about it years ago in an article in the Sewanee Review about Teilhard de Chardin's theory of the within of things, and I was thinking of reading up again on Teilhard. While looking through the list of books by Russell Brain, I noticed another called Tea With Walter de la Mare. Had to be the same guy, I figured, and de la Mare is a favorite of mine. So I bought both books and, sure enough, they were indeed by the same author.
Why should that be so odd? Because W. Russell Brain was best known as one of the greatest neurophysiologists of his day. Brain's Diseases of the Nervous System remains a key text in the field, as does Brain and Bannister's Clinical Neurology (co-author Bannister is Sir Roger Bannister, the first man to run the mile in under four minutes -- I can still remember the day it made the news). But Brain was more than a brilliant scientist. He was a broadly cultured human being, and his book of reminiscences about his visits to the elderly poet makes for fascinating reading. Moreover, there are interesting points of comparison between that book and the other. In the coming days I shall provide some details.