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Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 7 July, 2018 10:20PM
Knygatin Wrote:
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> From all these posts I am beginning to think that
> most of supernatural and fantasy fiction can be
> said to be about madness on a basic level. At
> least in real life, anyone claiming to have had a
> supernatural experience, or rising rapturous
> around elves and dragons, will be considered mad
> by the majority of conventional society, and
> consequently will be ostracized.

Not everything that "can be said" is the truth. If an author does not intend a fantasy to be a depiction of madness, then it does not matter of some critic chooses to see it differently.

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 7 July, 2018 10:28PM
Knygatin Wrote:
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> The teenage boy secretly sealed up in a hidden
> compartment in his mother's house after she
> unexpectedly dies, spying out from behind a
> wallpapered thin screen with peepholes at the
> newly arrived family, making forages to the
> kitchen for food when they are out, and having
> elaborate obsessive fantasies about one of their
> young daughters being his 'princess' - you may
> guess the rest - in Jack Vance's Bad Ronald, does
> not quite seem to be fully normal either.


I have not read "Bad Ronald". I do recall other Vance villains. Their most usual mental defect is a sort of narcissistic moral myopia. But sometimes a character will literally believe himself to be God. I think there may be a number of such, but the only one I can think of off the top of my head is the lost sibling from the end of (IIRC) NIGHT LAMP.

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 8 July, 2018 10:10AM
Platypus Wrote:
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> I do recall other
> Vance villains. Their most usual mental defect is
> a sort of narcissistic moral myopia.

Yes, you pinpoint it exactly. Such characters are often given very prominent space in Vance's novels, and we readers have to endure their longwinded egoistic harangues (not seldom dealing with money and fortune, and intended to be amusing). That's what I find most unsympathetic about Vance's work. But on the other hand, I love his fantasy elements (those moments they do occur, more in some books than in others).

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 10 July, 2018 12:42PM
Knygatin Wrote:
> Such characters are
> often given very prominent space in Vance's
> novels, and we readers have to endure their
> longwinded egoistic harangues (not seldom dealing
> with money and fortune, and intended to be
> amusing). That's what I find most unsympathetic
> about Vance's work.

You just reminded me that there was another villain in NIGHT LAMP, one who gave a grand speech elucidating his philosophy, before committing a senseless mass murder. I'm sure I've seen others in this vein, but other than NIGHT LAMP, most of my Vance reading was long ago.

I don't recall sharing your negative reaction to such episodes. Vance's outlook can come across as a bit amoral, and I found it reassuring that he is willing to draw the line somewhere, by mocking the nihilistic solipsism of such villains.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10 Jul 18 | 12:44PM by Platypus.

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 10 July, 2018 05:43PM
Platypus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I don't recall sharing your negative reaction to
> such episodes. Vance's outlook can come across as
> a bit amoral, and I found it reassuring that he is
> willing to draw the line somewhere, by mocking the
> nihilistic solipsism of such villains.


Yes, well, when their despicable behaviors are sprinkled with a generous dose of fantasy I can bear with it. I especially enjoyed the horrible fate of the villain Attel Malagate by the end of Star King. That is on a comparable level to CAS's sardonic culminations.

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 10 July, 2018 06:44PM
"The Adventure of the German Student", by Washington Irving, is arguably a tale of madness. It is a theme of Irving's ghost stories that they all tend to have "rational explanations" of one sort or another, and/or be told by unreliable narrators. And the "rational explanation" that suggests itself here is rather obvious.

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