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Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 27 June, 2018 02:51PM
Hello,

I really like good old stories about madness so I would like to ask if anybody can recommend a good story dealing with the subject of insanity. I like Horla by Guy de Maupassant, The Spectre-smitten by Samuel Warren, The Republic of The Southern Cross by Valery Bryusov, The Strange Malady by Aleister Crowley or The Glance by Stefan Grabinski. I am looking something like the afore-mentioned titles; a tale full of eccentricity, mental chaos and lack of reason. :-)

Thanks a lot.

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 27 June, 2018 07:26PM
Perhaps more subtle madness than you look for, but I think Walter de la Mare's story "A:B:O" is completely intense. Emotionally it is like written in a fever dream.

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 28 June, 2018 11:52AM
A.B.O. is a great story. Speaking of Walter de la Mare, his short story "What dreams may come" really seems to be a fever dream. :-)

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 28 June, 2018 05:10PM
Personally, I'm generally turned off by stories focusing on insane protagonists. "Oh: he's insane, okay, got it."

I'm much more interested in the governess in The Turn of the Screw as (what she pretty evidently is) a woman who took on much more than she was capable of managing, than the Edmund Wilson (I think it is) idea that the poor thing is simply hallucinating due to pathologically repressed longings.

I note btw that Lovecraft's stories are replete with narrators who assert that they are not insane, and/or that what they are about to relate could drive people (even the whole world) insane. But neither of these is the case. I suppose we could take it that the narrator of "The Rats in the Walls" has suffered some kind of mental breakdown and that the rats he seems to hear, in the story's present, are only in his mind. But isn't that about it, as regards Lovecraftian madness?

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 29 June, 2018 12:41PM
It has always seemed to me the main character in "The Supernumerary Corpse" is not normal and the murder he committed (or he thinks he committed it) is something existing only in his head. :-)

Great stories about insanity are "The Queer night in Paris", "Was it a dream?" and "A Letter from a madman" (proto-Horla story) by Guy de Maupassant and they are very authentic and of great value from a scientific point of view, owing to the fact Maupassant was himself a psychiatric case.

Also "In the mirror" and "When I woke up" by Valery Bryusov are excellent tales dealing with the subject of madness.

I also enjoyed "The Pomegranate Seed" by Edith Wharton which is not strictly about madness but about a man who killed his relative in such a clever and sophisticated way that when his conscience forced him come clean, nobody believed him and because he constantly pissed off the police and authorities by saying he was the murderer, they thought him mad and locked him up in an asylum.

More stories about madness I can remember by heart are "The Mr. Meldrum Mania" by John Metcalfe, "The Magnet" by Barry Pain, "Benlian" and "Rooum" by Oliver Onions.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 29 Jun 18 | 12:44PM by Minicthulhu.

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 3 July, 2018 03:41PM
A number of Philip K. Dick's short stories deal with a protagonist's paranoid preoccupations with things that may or may not be real. Two that spring to mind are:

"Out in the Garden" (paranoid husband jealous of his wife's duck).
"Roog" (paranoid dog thinks garbage men are evil space aliens).

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 3 July, 2018 03:56PM
Edgar Allan Poe is famous for protagonists who are arguably mad:

"A Cask of Amontillado"

"The Telltale Heart"

"The Black Cat"

Also I have seen it argued that "The Fall of the House of Usher" is an allegory of madness.

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 3 July, 2018 04:59PM
The concept of the mad protagonist is also related to that of the unreliable narrator. The narrator of "Carmilla", by Sheridan Le Fanu, is sometimes said to be unreliable, though in this case is is more likely the critics who are mad.

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 3 July, 2018 06:30PM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> a tale full of eccentricity, mental chaos and lack
> of reason. :-)

The ALICE books and THE HUNTING OF THE SNARK are a definite fit for this part of your request.

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 3 July, 2018 07:16PM
I don't know if you would say it is literally about madness, but "The House on the Borderland" by Hodgson, is pretty delirious.

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 3 July, 2018 09:51PM
Many tales of demonic possession or visitation could be rationalized as tales of madness. E.g., "Green Tea" and others in that theme by Sheridan Le Fanu.

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 3 July, 2018 09:56PM
"The White People" by Arthur Machen, can be thought of as a tale of madness (and of evil, of course).

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: jdworth (IP Logged)
Date: 3 July, 2018 10:56PM
For that matter, Oliver Onions' story, "The Beckoning Fair One" (arguably the best ghost story in the language) can also be seen as a record of madness or at the very least obsession.

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 4 July, 2018 02:58PM
jdworth Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> For that matter, Oliver Onions' story, "The
> Beckoning Fair One" (arguably the best ghost story
> in the language) can also be seen as a record of
> madness or at the very least obsession.

I was going to mention that one, but could not remember the title. Not sure I agree about it being the best ghost story in the English language, though.

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 4 July, 2018 03:08PM
Another Philip K. Dick example is his novel A SCANNER DARKLY, which is about (drug induced) madness. I believe madness is also a theme in his novel CLANS OF THE ALFANE MOON, though I have not read that one.

Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Angel of the Odd" can be rationalized as a drunkard's delirium. I vaguely recall hints that the protagonist might be mad in Poe's NARRATIVE OF ARTHUR GORDON PYM. In any case, the events described were often quite delirious.

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