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Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 4 July, 2018 03:27PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
> 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?

Besides "The Rats in the Walls", a number of other HPL short stories hint at narrators that may be mad. These include: "Hypnos", "Beyond the Wall of Sleep", "Polaris", "Dagon" and "Celephais".

Madness is one of the effects of the depredations of the sinister entity on "The Colour out of Space" and "The Shunned House".

Most of HPL's work hints at madness in one way or another. Azathoth and his emissary Nyarlathotep, among others, metaphorically embody the forces of madness. "Nyarlathotep" is a vision of a civilization being sucked into madness. After Carter meets Nyarlathotep in "The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath", he saves his soul from madness by leaping from the Shantak and falling to Earth.

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 4 July, 2018 06:30PM
Much of Shirley Jackson's horror work is preoccupied with psychological abnormality.

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 4 July, 2018 08:04PM
The protagonist/narrator of M.P. Shiel's THE PURPLE CLOUD is a homicidal maniac.

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: jdworth (IP Logged)
Date: 4 July, 2018 10:35PM
Platypus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> 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.


Note I said "arguably". At this juncture, I'm not sure one can quite pick "the" best, but I think this one certainly deserves close examination on such a list. The poetic sensibility of the tale, as well as its richness and subtlety, are difficult to surpass, and Onions as a whole is, like de la Mare and (Henry) James, extremely subtle and nuanced as a general thing. The restraint here has been matched by very few stories I've read, even in recent times. I think in particular of Ramsey Campbell's odd "Needing Ghosts", which should also be on this list, should more modern tales be allowed. This is one of the few cases which can almost match L. P. Hartley's blending of humor and horror in "The Traveling Grave" for having the former actually beautifully enhance the latter by the story's end.

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 5 July, 2018 07:01AM
Also "The Case of Euphemia Raphash" (1911) by M.P.Shiel is a great story about a man who tries to solve who murdered his sister, only to find in the end he was the culprit of the crime - he had escaped from the madhouse where he had been committed, in a state of mania, killed her and got back again unnoticed. Really great story.

Conte cruels by Maurice Level sometimes deal with psychologically unstable individuals; e.g. "A Madman" (aka A Maniac), "The Debt Collector" or "Fascination (1920).

"The Strange Adventures Of A Private Secretary In New York" (1906) by Algernon Blackwood is a good story about insanity.

"The Separated Room" (1917) by Ethel Colburn Mayne is about a mother who cannot stand her young daughter becomes more important in society than her so she bullies her to such a point the daughter commits suicide. Not strictly about madness but very good psychological story.

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 5 July, 2018 10:08AM
jdworth Wrote:
> Note I said "arguably". At this juncture, I'm not
> sure one can quite pick "the" best, but I think
> this one certainly deserves close examination on
> such a list.

I guess I'll just wait until I meet someone who really thinks it is one of the best ghost stories, and then, when he tells me why, I'll decide what to say then. In the meantime, I thought it was okay.

"Richness" and "subtlety" merely suggests it has alot to say, some of it implied rather than directly stated. But I can't really see that it says more than other ghost stories. I might even call it a bit long-winded.

[re: "The Fair Beckoning One" by Oliver Oniions]



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 5 Jul 18 | 10:10AM by Platypus.

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 5 July, 2018 12:17PM
Some mad people of classic literature:


The title character of Wells THE INVISIBLE MAN.

Ahab from MOBY DICK.

Don Quixote.

Lady MacBeth from "The Tragedy of Macbeth".

Ophelia from "Hamlet", and perhaps Hamlet too.

Reinfeld from DRACULA.

Dr. Jeckyl's alter ego Mr. Hyde.

Prototypical mad scientists Victor Frankenstein and Dr. Moreau.

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 5 July, 2018 12:20PM
Lemuel Gulliver, who arguably was never quite all there, goes quite off the deep end at the end of GULLIVER'S TRAVELS. He also encounters much madness in his travels, especially in Book 3.

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 5 July, 2018 01:47PM
G.K. Chesterton, in his essays and in his fiction, frequently deals with madness and sanity in often ironic ways.

His short story "A Crazy Tale" is an ironic look at the concept of madness.

His novel MANALIVE is about a suspected madman.

The climax to his novel THE BALL AND THE CROSS takes place at an insane asylum. It also involves a desperate leap from the asylum-keeper's flying machine, that reminded me of Carter's leap from the Shantak in "The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath".

I can't recall off the top of my head if THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY dealt directly with the idea of madness. But the novel itself was pretty delirious.

His late short story collection THE POET AND THE LUNATICS deals with themes of sanity and madness.

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 5 July, 2018 05:20PM
"Shell Game" (1954) is another Philip K. Dick short story about paranoiacs.

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 5 July, 2018 07:05PM
"The Yellow Wall-Paper" by Charlotte Perkins Stetson. Those unwilling to read it as a ghost story are fond of saying it is about post-partum psychosis.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 5 Jul 18 | 07:07PM by Platypus.

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 6 July, 2018 07:43AM
Also the protagonists in "Xeluca" and "The House of Sounds" by M.P.Shiel do not seem to be quite normal. :-)

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 6 July, 2018 12:03PM
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.

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 7 July, 2018 07:00PM
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.

Re: Classic stories about madness
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 7 July, 2018 09:46PM
"Memoirs of a Madman" a/k/a "Diary of a Madman", by Gogol, is quite amusing. I would guess it is far too amusing to be a realistic depiction of madness. It's not a morbid madness, anyway.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 7 Jul 18 | 10:17PM by Platypus.

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