Megan Garber writes:
But shyness can also be, Moran argues, a great gift, its impulse toward introversion allowing for the inventive thinking and creative genius that might elude the more talkatively inclined. Shrinking Violets is a sweeping work of history and anthropology and sociology, summoning Simmel and Seneca and Sontag in its exploration of diffidence; it is also, more simply, a series of short biographies of shyness and those who have lived, to varying degrees, under its influence. Alan Turing, Moran notes, was bashful as often as he was brash. Agatha Christie, so bold on the page, was painfully shy in person. So was, when he was not performing leadership, Charles de Gaulle. And so was, when he was not performing music, Morrissey. Lucius Licinius Crassus, consul of Rome and mentor of Cicero, confessed to “fainting with fear” before delivering a speech. Primo Levi told Philip Roth about “this shyness of mine.” Oliver Sacks’s first book went unpublished because he lent its only manuscript to a colleague who committed suicide shortly thereafter—and Sacks was too shy to ask the man’s widow for the book’s return.