|Publisher||Duckworth & Co., 1973|
Picador, 1991, 2006, 2010
|1973, revised 1976 and 1991|
|Pages||408 (First Edition)|
|Preceded by||Migraine (1970)|
|Followed by||A Leg to Stand On (1984)|
Awakenings is a 1973 non-fiction book by Oliver Sacks. It recounts the life histories of those who had been victims of the 1920s encephalitis lethargica epidemic. Sacks chronicles his efforts in the late 1960s to help these patients at the Beth Abraham Hospital (now Beth Abraham Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing) in the Bronx, New York. The treatment used the new drug L-DOPA.
In 1982, Sacks wrote:
I have become much more optimistic than I was when I […] wrote Awakenings, for there has been a significant number of patients who, following the vicissitudes of their first years on L-DOPA, came to do – and still do – extremely well. Such patients have undergone an enduring awakening, and enjoy possibilities of life which had been impossible, unthinkable, before the coming of L-DOPA.
The 1976 edition of the book is dedicated to the memory of Sacks' close friend, poet W. H. Auden, and bears an extract from Auden's 1969 poem The Art of Healing:
Papa would tell me,
'is not a science,
but the intuitive art
of wooing Nature.'
In popular culture
The book inspired a play, two films, a ballet and an opera:
- 1974: the documentary film Awakenings, produced by Duncan Dallas for Yorkshire Television as the first episode and pilot of the British television programme Discovery. The documentary won a Red Ribbon at the 1978 American Film Festival and first prize at the 1978 International Rehabilitation Film Festival.
- 1982: the play A Kind of Alaska by Harold Pinter, performed as part of a trilogy of Pinter's plays titled Other Places.
- 1990: the Oscar-nominated film Awakenings, starring Robert De Niro and Robin Williams.
- 2010: the ballet Awakenings, composed by Tobias Picker for the Rambert Dance Company, and premiered by Rambert in Salford, UK.
- 2022: the opera Awakenings, also composed by Picker, commissioned by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, with a libretto by Picker's husband Aryeh Lev Stollman, premiered on 11 June 2022
- "Awakenings by Sacks, Oliver". 2015. Retrieved 30 August 2015.[permanent dead link]
- MacCarthy, Fiona (5 December 1985), "Travels round a couch", The Times
- "Beth Abraham - Centers Health Care Nursing and Rehabilitation". Beth Abraham - Centers Health Care Nursing and Rehabilitation. Retrieved 2020-10-19.
- Sacks, Oliver, Awakenings, Amazon
- Sacks, O. (1976), Awakenings, Harmondsworth: Pelican Books, back cover blurb
- "Hawthornden Prize - Book awards - LibraryThing". www.librarything.com. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
- "Hawthornden Prize". web.mnstate.edu. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
- Halliwell, Martin Romantic Science and the Experience of Self: Transatlantic Crosscurrents from William James to Oliver Sacks, Routledge, 1999 Footnote 23
- Pinter, Harold (1984). Other Places: Four Plays. New York: Dramatists Play Service. ISBN 978-0-8222-0866-2.
- "Rambert Dance Company: The Making of Awakenings". The Ballet Bag. Retrieved 2016-12-14.
- Chuck Lavazzi (2022-06-10). "Perchance to dream: Opera Theatre's Awakenings puts a human face on a mysterious pandemic". KDHX. Retrieved 2022-07-18.
- Joshua Barone (2022-05-25). "An Oliver Sacks Book Becomes an Opera, With Help From Friends". The New York Times. Retrieved 2022-07-18.
- Cohn, Fred. "Re-Awakenings". Opera News. Retrieved September 3, 2022.
- Fenske, Sarah. "Awakenings Opera Premiering In St. Louis Came From Couple's Mutual Inspiration". St. Louis Public Radio. Retrieved May 1, 2022.