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The Human Touch

Michael Frayn

The Human Touch: Our Part in the Creation of the Universe is a fascinating search for an understanding of philosophy, cosmology, language and the big questions of life, from Michael Frayn, the award-winning author of Spies, Skios and Headlong.

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‘Imaginative, funny and dazzlingly clever.’ John Carey, Sunday Times

Mankind, scientists agree, is a tiny and insignificant anomaly 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 it even be so vast, without the fact of our insignificance to give it scale?

This paradox is what Michael Frayn calls ‘the world’s oldest mystery’. He shows how fleeting and indeterminate our contacts with the world around us are. The world is what we make of it – but what are we?

‘The breadth of [Frayn’s] reading is awesome and he is fearless in interpreting, and in some cases attacking, the philosophical or scientific dogmas of this or that revered savant. Everywhere he is eminently sensible, especially when he is making nonsense of our illusory certainties.’ John Banville

‘Brilliant and engaging … A dazzling and entertaining dialogue between [Frayn] and the reader.’ Patrick Masterson, Irish Times

Critic Reviews

Reading it felt like someone was refurnishing my mind.

Nick Laird, Guardian Books of the Year
Critic Reviews

Formidable but friendly ... a creative autobiography. Yet this is a wittily discursive summing-up of Frayn's career-long immersion as playwrite and novelist in the philosophical questions posed by post-Einstein science.

Boyd Tonkin, Independent Books of the Year
Critic Reviews

One of the UK's foremost humourists makes a semi-philosophical stab at explaining the relationship between human consciousness and the universe.

FT Books of the Year
Critic Reviews

The author is no less secularist that Dawkins, but he is alive to the real indeterminacies that haunt the world, striking fear intot he hearts of dogmatists: this lovely essay has not yet been welcomed anything like as warmly as it deserves.

Jonathan Ree, Prospect Books of the Year

Michael Frayn was born in London in 1933 and began his career as a journalist on the Guardian and the Observer. His novels include Towards the End of the Morning, Headlong, Spies and Skios. His seventeen plays range from Noises Off, recently chosen as one of the nation’s three favourite plays, to Copenhagen, which won the 1998 Evening Standard Award…

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