Paris at the dawn of the nineteenth century is ablaze with the story of a wild child, a boy captured by huntsmen who has been living wild in the woods of Southern France, a mute boy of twelve believed at first to be deaf; a ferocious boy who bites all who approach him; a boy rumoured to have lived alone since the age of five, and to have been suckled by wolves. The boy is brought to the Deaf-Mute Institute in Paris, where a young and ambitious doctor, Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard, is appointed to be the child’s tutor, staking his career on an astonishing claim: that he, Itard, will bring the child from savagery to civilization. He alone will teach the boy to speak.
Based on a true story this bewitching novel explores the enigma of Victor, the wild boy of Aveyron, and the effect he has on the people closest to him. In an act of brilliant literary license Jill Dawson poses an enquiry that has a powerful resonance in contemporary debates around the mysteries of the autistic condition; weaving three stories together into a mesmerizing tale of savagery, love and obsession.
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