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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Human Touch

The Human Touch

Our Part in the Creation of a Universe

Michael Frayn

Metropolitan Books


What do we really know? What are we in relation to the world around us? Here, the acclaimed playwright and novelist takes on the great questions of his career—and of our lives

Humankind, scientists agree, is an insignificant speck in the impersonal vastness of the universe. But what would that universe be like if we were not here to say something about it? Would there be numbers if there were no one to count them? Would the universe even be vast, without the fact of our smallness to give it scale?
With wit, charm, and brilliance, this epic work of philosophy sets out to make sense of our place in the scheme of things. Our contact with the world around us, Michael Frayn shows, is always fleeting and indeterminate, yet we have nevertheless had to fashion a comprehensible universe in which action is possible. But how do we distinguish our subjective experience from what is objectively true and knowable? Surveying the spectrum of philosophical concerns from the existence of space and time to relativity and language, Frayn attempts to resolve what he calls "the oldest mystery": the world is what we make of it. In which case, though, what are we?

All of Frayn's novels and plays have grappled with these essential questions; in this book he confronts them head-on.

Praise for The Human Touch

“The target audience: anyone who enjoys gaping at the complexities of existence. The topic: everything . . . Fantastic.” —Entertainment Weekly (grade: A)

“Michael Frayn's exultant prose entices and ultimately overwhelms you. Reading his arguments, I felt as though I were floating down a warm river, caught up in its playful, whirling eddies. . . . Beautifully written.” —Los Angeles Times

“Immense erudition . . . and more than a dash of wit . . . What makes The Human Touch so rewarding is the subtlety and humor with which he examines 'the great mutual balancing act.'” —The New York Times

“His command of current scholarship in physics and biology is impressive; his discussion of psychological issues is discerning. . . . Witty and ingratiating style.” —The St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“An inviting introduction to modern cosmology and philosophy with no prerequisites other than the willingness to entertain counterfactuals, imponderables, and leaps of faith. Nicely done.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Absolutely riveting . . . Read it, and you may come to look at the world differently.” —Newsday

“Erudite, imaginative, funny, and dazzlingly clever . . . [Frayn] unbolts, chapter by chapter, the fabric of the universe.” —The Sunday Times (London)

Reviews from Goodreads

Michael Frayn

Michael Frayn is the author of ten novels, including the best-selling Headlong, which was a New York Times Editor's Choice selection and a Booker Prize finalist, and Spies, which received the Whitbread Fiction Award. Michael Frayn is also the author of My Father's Fortune: A Life, The Human Touch: Our Part in the Creation of a Universe, Democracy: A Play, A Landing on the Sun: A Novel, The Copenhagen Papers: An Intrigue and The Trick of It: A Novel. He has also written fifteen plays, among them Noises Off and Copenhagen, which won three Tony Awards in 1999. He lives just south of London.

image of Michael Frayno
Eamonn McCabe

Michael Frayn

Metropolitan Books

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