By Irina Sirotkina
The important position of literature and the determine of the author in Russian society and heritage were widely studied, yet their function within the evolution of psychiatry is much less renowned. In Diagnosing Literary Genius: A Cultural historical past of Psychiatry in Russia, 1880-1930, Irina Sirotkina explores the alterations of Russian psychiatric perform via its dating to literature. in this interval, psychiatrists started to view literature as either a trademark of the nation's psychological wellbeing and fitness and an essential component of its wellbeing and fitness. via aligning themselves with writers, psychiatrists argued that the purpose in their technology was once no longer distinctive to the literary venture of exploring the human soul and reflecting at the mental diseases of the age.
Through the writing of pathographies (medical biographies), psychiatrists bolstered their social status, debated political matters below the guise of literary feedback, and asserted ethical in addition to expert claims. by way of reading the psychiatric engagement with the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky, Nikolai Gogol, Leo Tolstoy, and the decadents and revolutionaries, Sirotkina offers a wealthy account of Russia's scientific and literary background in this turbulent progressive interval.
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Additional resources for Diagnosing literary genius : a cultural history of psychiatry in Russia, 1880-1930
For playing a role,” there should be further investigation into his life. ” The ﬁrst biography of Gogol, by the Ukrainian writer and ethnographer P. A. ¹³ A subsequent biographer, V. I. ” Shenrok explored the idea that Gogol was unable to act adequately and suggested that he had exhausted himself working on the ﬁrst volume of Dead Souls: “this . . led to the illness which brought him ultimately to the mystic path . . ”¹⁴ One of the ﬁrst medical versions of Gogol’s life came from Italy. In his Genio e follia (), Cesare Lombroso took Gogol as an example of the connections between genius and illness.
Vladimir Fedorovich Chizh V. F. Chizh (–) was born into the Ukrainian gentry. 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.
Yet the letter made a deep impact on Russian revolutionary consciousness. Even more noticeable was Belinsky’s inﬂuence on the perception of art and its place in society. Insisting that literature should have a social role, Belinsky condemned “pure art” on moral grounds. ⁷ Belinsky made heavy moral demands on writers, requiring continuity and coherence between the writer’s life and his literary work. This position became established as a tradition, identiﬁed by Isaiah Berlin as particularly Russian, in which the line between life and art is not clearly drawn.