By Irina Sirotkina

ISBN-10: 0801867827

ISBN-13: 9780801867828

ISBN-10: 0801876893

ISBN-13: 9780801876899

The important position of literature and the determine of the author in Russian society and background were generally studied, yet their function within the evolution of psychiatry is much less popular. In Diagnosing Literary Genius: A Cultural historical past of Psychiatry in Russia, 1880-1930, Irina Sirotkina explores the ameliorations of Russian psychiatric perform via its courting to literature. in this interval, psychiatrists started to view literature as either a trademark of the nation's psychological well-being and a vital part of its healthiness. via aligning themselves with writers, psychiatrists argued that the purpose in their technological know-how used to be no longer distinct to the literary undertaking of exploring the human soul and reflecting at the mental illnesses of the age.

Through the writing of pathographies (medical biographies), psychiatrists bolstered their social status, debated political concerns below the guise of literary feedback, and asserted ethical in addition to expert claims. by means of analyzing the psychiatric engagement with the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky, Nikolai Gogol, Leo Tolstoy, and the decadents and revolutionaries, Sirotkina presents a wealthy account of Russia's scientific and literary background in this turbulent progressive interval.

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Additional info for Diagnosing Literary Genius : A Cultural History of Psychiatry in Russia, 1880-1930 (Medicine and Culture)

Sample text

Chizh, offered authoritative confirmation of the prevalent nineteenth-century opinion that Gogol suffered from a mental disorder. The two psychiatrists used medical resources to endorse the popular opinion that art ought to have a social mission. Chizh was especially forceful in suggesting a medical underpinning for the moral evaluation of Gogol. In his life project as a moralist, Chizh integrated his writing about Gogol with psychiatry and experimental psychology. With the beginning of the new century, however, literary critics’ opinion of Gogol shifted.

His father, a general, owned an estate near Poltava, in a prosperous agricultural region— the same region where Gogol set his first sunny and cheerful work, the Evenings on a Farm near Dikan’ka (–). ²⁴ After graduating from the prestigious Medical-Surgical Academy in , he became assistant physician at the Navy Hospital in Kronshtadt, an island fortress in the Baltic Sea. In  he moved back to Petersburg, where he was appointed physician at a police institution, the Shelter for Primary Care for the Insane.

Almost certainly, Portugalov claimed, psychiatric analysis should not be applied to Gogol, who was distinguished first of all as a social writer. Any psychological or psychiatric interpretation of Gogol’s characters that ignored their significance as social types would be irrelevant to the author’s plot. Pliushkin, Portugalov thought, symbolized an accumulator of wealth, and he was therefore to be understood as a type of the precapitalist era. He was created as a counterpart to the main character of the novel, Chichikov, in whom Gogol pictured a new type, the capitalist entrepreneur.

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Diagnosing Literary Genius : A Cultural History of Psychiatry in Russia, 1880-1930 (Medicine and Culture) by Irina Sirotkina


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