In this remarkable book Jonathan Miller considers the functioning of the body as a subject of private experience. He explores our attitudes towards the body, our astonishing ignorance about certain parts of it and inability to read its signals. Taking as his starting point the experience of pain, Dr Miller explores the elaborate social process of 'falling ill', considers the physical foundations of 'dis-ease' and looks at the types of individuals man has historically attributed with the power of healing. His explanations are so lucid, so wide-ranging and so whole-heartedly entertaining it is often hard to believe one is reading about the facts of one's own body and what can go wrong with it. His use of metaphor and suggestive models, particularly when tracing the historical development of certain leading ideas in human physiology, is highly stimulating. Above all, there is the keen originality and sheer enthusiasm of Dr Miller's approach to his subject which makes The Body in Question such an outstanding book.
Jonathan Miller was born in London in 1934. He read Natural Sciences at Cambridge and qualified as a Doctor of Medicine in 1959. In 1961 he co-authored and appeared in Beyond the Fringe with Alan Bennett, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. On his return to England in 1964, after the New York run of Beyond the Fringe, he was invited to edit and present Monitor, the weekly arts programme on BBC television. Since then he has made frequent and various contributions to public broadcasting. He produced and directed the TV film of Alice in Wonderland in 1966, and wrote and presented the thirteen-part documentary series The Body in Question in 1976. Between 1980 and 1982 he was the executive producer of the BBC's Shakespeare series. He conducted fifteen personal interviews with psychologists in a series entitled States of Mind, later published as a book. He has also written and presented a television series on language, and another on the history of mental illness. He has worked extensively in the classical theatre, directing productions in Nottingham, Stratford, Chichester and at the Old Vic. For two years he was the artistic director of the Old Vic. His opera career started in 1974 and since then he has directed productions at most of the leading opera houses in the world, including the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, the English National Opera, the Maggio Musicale in Florence, La Scala in Milan, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Deutsche Staatsopher in Berlin, the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich and the Salzburg Festival. In 1998 he curated an exhibition at the National Gallery in London, entitled 'Mirror Image'. His books include McLunhan in the Modern Masters series, Darwin for Beginners, States of Mind, Subsequent Performances, On Reflection and a book of his own photographs, Nowhere in Particular. In 1997 he was elected Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in London and in 1998 he was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh. He is also a Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.