By C. Wiesenthal
How are symptoms of psychic alienation variously enfigured in literary texts? and the way do readers consistently determine in a few kind of the 'madness' they try to determine? those are a number of the questions addressed by means of Figuring insanity , a research which employs the insights of present post-structuralist psychoanalysis and semiotic idea to envision the complicated interimplication of the topic and item of insanity that's regularly implied by means of the dynamics of analytic dia-gnosis. In its specialize in the consequences of writing and studying symptoms of insanity, the learn bargains new interpretations of either canonical and non-canonical texts by means of authors spanning the interval from Jane Austen and Anthony Trollope to Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Henry James.
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Extra info for Figuring Madness in Nineteenth-Century Fiction
2. WRITING THE 'DEAD PAPER': METHOD IN MADNESS VS DELIRIOUS DISCOURSE Unsympathetically diagnosed by her physician-husband as suffering from a 'temporary nervous depression - a slight hysterical 'U1111card of Contradictions' 27 tendency' (10), the narrator of 'The Yellow Wallpaper' finds herself sequestered in an attic 'nursery' (which the text, though, suggests has roomed a madwoman or two before her), her already 'sensitive' 'nervous condition' (11) exacerbated by her husband's strict injunction that she not write or 'work' until [she is] well again' (10).
Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Trans. Sylvana Tomaselli (New York: Norton, 1991) 7. See, for example, Foucault 1961; Ehrenreich and English 1973; Scull 1979; Jordanova 1981; Doerner 1981; Digby 1985; Showalter 1985; Smith-Rosenberg 1985; Goldstein 1987. In the latter essay, for example, he is led to conclude: 'Thus we see that both in neurosis and psychosis there comes into consideration the question not only of a loss of reality but also of a substitute for reality' (SE 19: 187). See especially 'Notes on Some Schizoid Mechanisms' (1946), which presents Klein's most detailed account of the 'paranoid-schizoid position' of the early ego (1975, I, 1 - 24).
Importantly, though, to grant Gilman's highly didactic attitude toward her art this much weight is not necessarily to agree with her reductive estimate of 'The Yellow Wallpaper'; one certainly does well to heed the words of critics quick to point out that, whatever its original polemical impulse, Gilman's 'purposeful fiction' 'transcends its author's expressed intent' (Shumaker 66). At this point, I would want to add as well that, thus far, I have perhaps also established a dichotomy too neat in its implicit opposition of the mad narrator's paradoxical language of reason and the wallpaper's delirious discourse.