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Letters to the Editor – The New York Times

O Canada

To the Editor:

It was nice to read the condensed interview (By the Book, June 17) with Michael Ondaatje, Canada’s third most well-known poet-turned-novelist, Margaret Atwood and the late Leonard Cohen being first and second.

It was also nice to see Ondaatje refer to Canadian authors and small publishers, especially at a time when Donald Trump has been accusing Canada of doing everything short of drowning America’s kittens.

RON CHARACH
TORONTO

To the Editor:

In Match Book (July 1), Nicole Lamy suggests books by Canadian authors one might read while crossing Canada by rail. Alas, she didn’t even mention Robertson Davies, one of Canada’s most famous writers, or his three trilogies: The Deptford Trilogy; The Cornish Trilogy; The Salterton Trilogy. They are worth reading seriatim and more than once.

Perfect for a long train trip.

PAMELA RILEY
PHILADELPHIA

The Origins of Autism

To the Editor:

Seth Mnookin’s review of Edith Sheffer’s “Asperger’s Children: The Origins of Autism in Nazi Vienna” (June 24) correctly observes that the prevailing concept of autism as a spectrum encompassing high-functioning individuals owes far more to Lorna Wing’s research in the 1970s and ’80s than to Hans Asperger’s obscure 1944 study. Yet the most influential person in the development of the autism diagnosis may well be someone else. It was long thought that Asperger and Leo Kanner, the American child psychiatrist, had independently chosen the term “autistic,” which was coined by Eugen Bleuler in 1911. Yet in his 2015 book, “NeuroTribes,” Steve Silberman noted that Asperger and Kanner shared a colleague: Georg Frankl.

Frankl had worked with Erwin Lazar (previously a student of Bleuler’s) before working with Asperger in Vienna. By 1937, Frankl’s former colleague and future wife, Anni Weiss, had fled to America, and Frankl himself was in danger. (Both were Jewish.) Kanner helped bring Jewish clinicians from Europe to America. One of them was Frankl, who then worked with Kanner at Johns Hopkins University on his seminal research. Frankl likely transmitted Bleuler’s ideas to both Asperger and Kanner. Moreover, Frankl — anticipating Wing — viewed autism as encompassing a spectrum.

STEPHEN A. SILVER
SAN FRANCISCO

Creative Writing?

To the Editor:

I enjoyed Joe Klein’s review of Ben Rhodes’s “The World as It Is: A Memoir of the Obama White House” (June 24) until I reached this line: “He writes well, even though he has a master’s degree in creative writing.” This is akin to saying, “He’s a great chef, despite earning a Ph.D. in culinary arts.”

MONIQUE CASSIDY ECKHOFF
FORT COLLINS, COLO.

The Times welcomes letters from readers. Letters for publication should include the writer’s name, address and telephone number. Letters should be addressed to The Editor, The New York Times Book Review, 620 Eighth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10018. The email address is books@nytimes.com. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. We regret that because of the large volume of mail received, we are unable to acknowledge or to return unpublished letters.

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