Madness and the Loss of Identity in Nineteenth Century Fiction


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About the Book

An obsession with individual identity pervaded Western thinking in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This critical study examines the concept of identity in the works of nineteenth century American and British authors, focusing especially on psychologically mad, vague, shifting and dualistic characterization. Authors examined include Ambrose Bierce, Henry James, Wilkie Collins, Robert Louis Stevenson, Charles Chesnutt, Lillie Devereux Blake, and Mary Elizabeth Braddon. The text discusses how each author was influenced by contemporary events (such as the American Civil War, slavery, the Second Great Awakening, and the beginnings of modern psychology), how those experiences shaped contemporary intellectual thought regarding identity, and how the resulting concern with personal identity was manifested in literary characters who were either in search of or running from themselves.

About the Author(s)

Judy Cornes is a retired English professor from Odessa College in Texas. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri.

Bibliographic Details

Judy Cornes

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 224
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3224-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1263-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1
Introduction      5

1. The Nightmare World of Ambrose Bierce      21
2. Henry James and the Examined Life      55
3. Wilkie Collins and Social Constraints      73
4. The Strange Cases of Robert Louis Stevenson      116
5. Charles Chesnutt and the Despair of Blackness      144
6. Lillie Devereux Blake and the Perilous Web of Sex      161
7. The Secret Life of Lady Audley      183

Chapter Notes      203
Bibliography      209
Index      213