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The Inkblots

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The Inkblots by Damion Searls
Paperback
Feb 20, 2018 | ISBN 9780804136563
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    Feb 20, 2018 | ISBN 9780804136563

  • Ebook $11.99

    Feb 21, 2017 | ISBN 9780804136556

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Praise

“It seems incredible that no one before Damion Searls has ever written a biography of Rorschach. . . . His early death may have deterred other would-be biographers, but Searls sails past it with style: the second half of his book traces the fortunes of Rorschach’s famous test, which became a household word in America after World War II, when the U.S. Army used it on draftees. Searls uses this unlikely-seeming artifact to illuminate two histories, one scientific, the other cultural, both full of surprises.”The Paris Review

“Searls, a writer and translator, provides a rich cultural history of the Rorschach test, along with the first proper biography of Hermann Rorschach himself. . . . With The Inkblots, the Rorschach, in all its ambiguity, finally has the richly complex life history it deserves.”—New York magazine

“Tremendously rich . . . [Searls] probed unpublished letters, journals and other material to illuminate the way setting and circumstance influenced Rorschach’s life and work. . . . An exhaustively researched story of Rorschach’s brief life and an engaging consideration of his enduring test.”San Francisco Chronicle

“This excellent book begins as a biography and becomes, when [Rorschach] suddenly dies of a ruptured appendix at the age of thirty-seven, a cultural history of his creation.”Harper’s

“Searls provides a detailed recounting of a man whose creativity and curiosity about the human mind drove him to create a new way of ‘reading’ people—an innovation that was quickly embraced, and misunderstood, by the masses.”Discover
 
“What an amazing book. The Rorschach inkblot is like the enigmatic corpse in a mystery novel, and Damion Searls is the passionate and encyclopedic detective who unpacks the intricate and twisted story of how it came to be. By the end, one feels that Rorschach and his test are the key to understanding the whole 20th century. Searls is a wonderful writer: funny, compassionate, and unfailingly attentive to all the magical coincidences (or are they?) and twists of human history.”—Elif Batuman, author of The Possessed

“If the test’s subtlety has been hammered out by overfamiliarity, Searls restores much of its potency in this rich, resonant book. A dual biography, The Inkblots tells the story of the test’s inventor, Dr. Hermann Rorschach, while tracing the strange half-life of his cards as they appear, Zelig-like, at key twentieth-century moments. Along the way, it almost inadventently uncovers a hidden history of social attitudes and cultural shifts over the past hundred years. . . . Searls creates a warm-blooded portrait of a man who feels like a Hollywood biopic in waiting.”The Sunday Times

“In this broad yet richly nuanced book, literary translator Damion Searls gives to English readers for the first time the remarkable story of the Swiss psychiatrist whose iconic test provoked interest and head-shaking everywhere. . . . [The Inkblots] is rich with entertaining and unexpected details.”New York Journal
 
“A richly detailed, sensitive biography of Rorschach’s short life and long afterlife.” Kirkus Reviews

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