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The problem of madness has preoccupied Russian thinkers since the beginning of Russia's troubled history and has been dealt with repeatedly in literature, art, film, and opera, as well as medical, political, and philosophical essays. Madness has been treated not only as a medical or psychological matter, but also as a metaphysical one, encompassing problems of suffering, imagination, history, sex, social and world order, evil, retribution, death, and the afterlife.
Madness and the Mad in Russian Culture represents a joint effort by American, British, and Russian scholars - historians, literary scholars, sociologists, cultural theorists, and philosophers - to understand the rich history of madness in the political, literary, and cultural spheres of Russia. Editors Angela Brintlinger and Ilya Vinitsky have brought together essays that cover over 250 years and address a wide variety of ideas related to madness - from the involvement of state and social structures in questions of mental health, to the attitudes of major Russian authors and cultural figures towards insanity and how those attitudes both shape and are shaped by the history, culture, and politics of Russia.
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'-Madness (bezumie) is a language,- Mikhail Epstein writes in his contribution to this wonderfully eclectic and wide-ranging volume. In the Russian literary tradition, that language has enjoyed high status: it was spoken by holy fools, saintly idiots, honest citizens incarcerated in psychiatric hospitals, great poets in their capacity as prophets. In the post-Soviet period, this spectrum broadened to include de-ideologized studies of neurosis, depression, suicide, fan hysteria, shell shock, revolutionary trauma - all of which are discussed here by Russians from inside their own culture as well as by outsiders and bi-culturals. A fascinating book on that most difficult task: making cultural sense out of worlds and psyches designed to work on the far side of reason.'-Caryl Emerson, A. Watson Armour III University Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Princeton University About the Author:
Angela Brintlinger is an associate professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Ohio State University.
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