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on 20 October 2010
This book sets out to show that "sudden" creative insight is the result of years of a sophisticated knowledge-base and the related skills and deliberate effort, or what George Steiner (2001) in his much better book "Grammars of Creation" describes as "creativity by accretion". The most welcome feature of "Sudden Genius" is the inclusion of the significance of the ten year rule for understanding expert creative performance; however, there is nothing new in this given that Weisberg had already made such a connection at least fifteen years ago.

The book explores the idea of sudden genius in relationship to a series of well known case studies of geniuses like Leonardo. Although this is very welcome, it is somewhat well-trodden ground, and, in itself fails to give any insight into one of the conundrums of our time - the prevalence of a form of creativity that Steiner describes as "nihilistic", which need not conform to the ten year rule. Such leveled forms of creativity require no sophisticated knowledge-base and the accompanying deliberate practice but remain the fashion in visual art and popular culture. A book like Sudden Genius that is aimed at explaining creativity to a wide audience needs to address this anomaly if it is to be meaningful for our own time.

Leslie C
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