Combining science with emotion

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 August, 2011, 12:00am


Flowers for Algernon
Daniel Keyes
Published by Mariner Books
ISBN 015603008X

Imagine you are a mouse in a maze. It may take many painful failures before you find your way out.

But what if you were a smarter mouse? What if you were a smarter person?

Flowers for Algernon, a novel published in 1966, follows the life of Charlie Gordon, 32, who has an IQ of just 68 and has issues of self-esteem.

He becomes the first human to undergo surgery to boost intelligence.

Then he realises that he is just as vulnerable despite his increased complexity.

The scientists do not recognise Charlie's full potential, and continue to insult and mock him. Above all, he is lonely.

This prize-winning novel, by Daniel Keyes, is no light read: in rich language, it explores complex themes such as the dangers of toying with nature and the relationship between intellect and love.

How far can science progress before it becomes destructive?

Can love overcome intellect?

The novel struggles to answer these questions through Charlie's internal conflicts as well as disagreements between himself and his lover, doctors and family.

Keyes develops memorable characters with raw emotions, but the plot is sometimes predictable. Nonetheless, Flowers for Algernon is worth reading.

This momentous novel will certainly widen your horizons.