"The Echo Maker" novel by Richard Powers


The story

Richard Powers's novel, The Echo Maker (2006), tells the story of Mark Schluter, a young man of 27 who is nearly killed in an accident with his truck. He recovers but seems to be suffering from Capgras, a condition in which the patient believes that some of his loved ones have been replaced by doubles. Mark thinks his sister Karin has been replaced by someone who looks exactly like Karin, but he is certain she is only a robot or a stand-in. He calls her Kopy Karin and Karbon Karin. The evolution of the syndrome is far from positive. The condition seems to spread. Mark begins to believe it is not just Karin who has been replaced. His dog, his house, his old town and some of his best friends all seem to be replaced by stand ins.

Two doctors are trying to help Mark. The neurologist, Dr. Hayes, seeks the causes for Capgras in the physiological aspects of the brain. For him, treatment consists of pills. The popular "cognitive neurologist" (93), Dr. Weber, on the other hand, tries to understand the syndrome by linking it to existential problems such as "what is the self?" and "who is the other?" He starts from the idea that "you couldn't grasp any individual brain without addressing private history, circumstance, personality--the whole person, beyond the sum of mechanical modules and localized deficits" (227). Both doctors fail to get a grip on the syndrome and to help Mark. We might say they fail to capture the condition called Capgras. In what follows, we would like to see if the novel succeeds where these two fail. To organize our thoughts on the matter, we will first look at narration and focalization as they serve in The Echo Maker to grasp Mark's condition. At the end of our paper, we will test our findings on the representations of Mark's brain immediately after the accident. His limited brain capacity at this stage brings out the bare necessities of consciousness representation, which will give us crucial evidence for an analysis of the way in which brain trauma is narrativized in The Echo Maker.

My opinion

It's not comparable to the novels i read before, the story is boring specially the last chapters but it has something which makes it interesting for me. It talks about human brain and its complexities, it's a fiction novel but it provides you with lots of interesting theories about how our brain works.

There are many good resources on the Internet about Capgras syndrome


I recommend this novel only to Human Brains' enthusiasts.

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