Neurasthenia in the life and work of Leonid Andreev

By the first decade of the twentieth century, Russia was experiencing a decadent period of cultural degeneration. Simultaneous with this artistic response, science was developing ways to identify medical conditions that supposedly reflected the health of the entire nation. Leonid Andreev (1871–1919), the leading literary figure of his time, stepped into the breech of this scientific discourse with literary works about degenerates. The spirited social debates on mental illness, morality and sexual deviance which resulted from these works became part of the ongoing battle over the definition and depiction of the irrational, complicated by Andreev’s own publicized bouts with neurasthenia. Specific to the study is the way in which Andreev readily accepted and incorporated scientific conjecture into his cultural production and how these works were in turn cited by medical authorities as confirmation of their theories, creating a circular argument. This book demonstrates the implications of scientific discourse on Russian concepts of mental illness and national health. It examines the concept of pathology in Russia, the influence of European medical discourse, the development of Russian psychiatry, and the role that it had on popular culture by investigating the life and works of Andreev. Although widely discussed in its European context, degeneration theory has not been afforded the same scholarly attention in Russian cultural studies. As a result, this study extends and challenges scholarship on the Russian fin de siècle, the emergence of psychiatry as a new medical science, and the role that art played in the development of this objective science.

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Dostoevskii (1821–1881) and Anton Chekhov (1860–1904) during his lifetime. Yet, because he had both supported revolution in his early years and reviled the Bolsheviks at the end of his life, Andreev found no defenders among Russian émigrés living abroad or literary scholars in the Soviet Union. Within a decade after his death, and for roughly thirty years thereafter, his literary works were largely ignored. This book invites reconsideration of one of the leading authors of the Russian fin de siècle, concentrating on a neglected area of his life and work. Andreev was

in Degeneration, decadence and disease in the Russian fin de siècle

6 Lunacy and politics at fin de siècle, 1800–3 The extraordinary flurry of physical interference with the King during the months between the assassination attempts of James Hadfield and Urban Metcalf in 1800–1, and the consequent ‘Despard conspiracy’ of 1801–2, may perhaps be seen as the fin de siècle climax of popular-royal physicality. It is not, however, simply a question of evaluating the extent to which the language of resistance in post-1794 radicalism may be considered contextual. If one of the consequences of the Two Acts was the forcing of radicalism

in The politics of regicide in England, 1760–1850
Unspeakability in Vernon Lee‘s Supernatural Stories

Vernon Lees supernatural fiction provides an interesting test case for speculations about the function of spectrality for women writers on the cusp of the modern era. This article argues that spectrality, in line with Julian Wolfreys’ theories about the ‘hauntological disturbance’ in Victorian Gothic (2002), is both disruptive and desirable, informing the narratives we construct of modernity. It traces the links between the ‘unspeakable’ spectral encounter and contemporary attitudes to gender and sexuality in stories in Vernon Lees collection Hauntings (1890), as well as her Yellow Book story ‘Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady’ (1897). The ghostly encounter is erotic and welcomed as well as fearful, used to comment on the shortcomings of heterosexual marriage and bourgeois life, though this often results in the troubling spectacle of the ravished, mutilated or bloody female corpse. Lees negotiation of unspeakability and the desire for the ghostly is compared to the more graphic depictions of the dead female in stories from E. Nesbits Grim Tales (1893). Representations of the female revenant are considered in relation to the psychoanalytic readings of the otherness of the female corpse put forward by Elisabeth Bronfen (1992).

Gothic Studies
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interaction may be the key to Andreev’s immense success during his lifetime. Granted, each one of these issues could warrant its own study, but the purpose of this book was to reopen the line of discourse for further discussion of Andreev and his time. In this concluding chapter, the intention is to outline new ways of interpreting Andreev’s life and works in order to encourage future scholarly 8.1 Leonid Andreev from February 1901, while a patient at the Imperial clinic for nervous disorders. 258 Degeneration, decadence and disease in the Russian fin de siècle

in Degeneration, decadence and disease in the Russian fin de siècle

technique for the romantic exploration of madness, and, through madness, a description of the psyche.3 26 Degeneration, decadence and disease in the Russian fin de siècle Russia’s cultural and scientific understanding of madness was influenced by German writers such as Joseph Eichendorff (1788–1857), Ludwig Tieck (1773–1853), Novalis (1772–1801) and E.T.A. Hoffmann (1772– 1822); philosophers such as Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900); and psychiatrists such as Emil Kraepelin (1856–1926) and Sigmund Freud (1856–1939). By 1875, 83 percent of professors in

in Degeneration, decadence and disease in the Russian fin de siècle

the story that he befriended the young writer and soon began to offer him literary advice. 92 Degeneration, decadence and disease in the Russian fin de siècle Along with introducing Andreev to critics and publishers, Gor’kii also invited the young writer to participate in the literary circle Sreda (The Wednesday Circle), which meant that Andreev was soon a part of the new, young Moscow artistic scene. The purpose of the circle was to provide an environment in which young authors could read their latest works and receive constructive criticism. This is where

in Degeneration, decadence and disease in the Russian fin de siècle

the people who should be hanged. Everywhere else honest people are at large and only criminals are in prison. In Russia the honest people are in prison and the criminals are at large.’ 4 184 Degeneration, decadence and disease in the Russian fin de siècle In 1908 Andreev wrote ‘The Story of the Seven Who Were Hanged’ about how seven prisoners meet their day of execution. In this story, the prison is associated with an insane asylum: ‘[I]t appeared to the warden, who passed all his life in the prison, and who looked upon its laws as the laws of nature, that the

in Degeneration, decadence and disease in the Russian fin de siècle
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to military defeat at the hands of a healthy Japan.3 Andreev was repulsed by this war and took his family mid-March to a Crimean resort in Yalta to escape the never ending public debate. Even there, however, he could not avoid reading daily reports of the staggering 136 Degeneration, decadence and disease in the Russian fin de siècle losses in Manchuria as the Japanese continually outmaneuvered the larger and less efficient Russian army. At this same time, an explosion due to a welding accident killed a Turkish tradesperson and injured another outside of Andreev

in Degeneration, decadence and disease in the Russian fin de siècle

period of commercial and cultural development, especially in small provincial 64 Degeneration, decadence and disease in the Russian fin de siècle towns like Orel. As a result of new responsibilities for local governments, regional centers began to bustle with political, legal and cultural activities. The expanding railroad bridged vast distances, roads were paved and sewage systems were installed. At this time, the Andreevs lived in modest comfort, which provided young Leonid with a relatively carefree childhood. Wide and quiet Pushkarnaia Street gave way to open

in Degeneration, decadence and disease in the Russian fin de siècle