Forum / Touched with Fire

  • 0001_pabst_blue_ribbon_time.thumb
    Jun 05, 05:01am

    Just read this. Some thoughts:

    Intro material much too long, too much repetition of material/concepts, with example after example after example of, essentially, the same thing.

    Long chapter on Byron too...long (though it was nice finally to get to stay with one artist for more than a paragraph or two). Too much repetition by last 1/3. However, the genealogical breakdown on the lunacy/alcoholism/violence/incest in his family is staggering, to say the least.

    Chapter on Henry and William James very good, with equally good treatment of family tree.

    Following chapters on other writers too...


    Wanted more on Melville, Tennyson, etc. They seem to get no more than a passing thought or two.

    Also, as a whole, it seemed to lack a narrative purpose/point. Which is fine, as I think the book is intended simply as an exploration of manic/depressive illness and artists, but I was left feeling rather vague about the whole thing.

    Me thinks she should possibly have simply written a book exclusively about Byron, as he seems to have been her over-riding interest, and the others (for the most part) almost approached as filler material.

  • 0001_pabst_blue_ribbon_time.thumb
    Jun 05, 10:15pm

    Hello, caller, you're onnnnnnnnn the air...

    "What's up with all the charts and graphs and tables in the first chapter? I mean, it's NOT a textbook, there won't be a test. I don't get it..."

  • Image.bedroom.009.expose.thumb
    Ann Bogle
    Jun 05, 10:59pm

    Matt, I'm so glad you're covering this book in the forum and that you read it so closely. I read it many years ago and do not have a copy so cannot verify, but I recall feeling it was like an anthology of poetry (is that way off or not so off?) and I remember that she (Kay Redfield Jamison) gave short shrift to many of the writers she names (as you say here).

    Her books on suicide and exuberance I have not read but am somewhat interested. If anyone has read those, fill me in. I did read her memoir, An Unquiet Mind (a great title for a quiet book about bipolar/manic-depression).

  • 0001_pabst_blue_ribbon_time.thumb
    Jun 06, 01:07am

    It sounds like a good idea and something that would be easy to pitch to an agent: Manic-Depressive illness and Great Artists Affected by it.

    And it's got a great title.

    But how can you truly make a successful book out of this?

    Number one: you're not going to please everyone. Those in favor of This are going to bemoan all of that Thatness taking up space...

    And if you do come down on one side or the other of the question: Is creativity affected in a productive manner by M-D? (instead of taking the "scientific/balanced" approach), then you've cut your subject in half.

    If you simply say: Of course creativity is affected by M/D illness, then you have nothing to promote, intellectually.

    As to making it an examination of Byron exclusively, undoubtedly there are many biographies of Byron already in existence; and isn't he a bit too obvious a choice to begin with, being the poster-boy, as it were, for such behavior?

    It's almost a no-win situation, this question of how you would "build" such a book for a general reading audience.

    Enough scientific material to keep your colleagues satisfied (while boring the general reader, as nothing truly interesting is revealed), and then an unbalanced hodge-podge of examples from the artistic world does not, imo, make for a successful book.

    But what would a good book on this subject look like?

  • Linda.thumb
    Linda Simoni-Wastila
    Jun 06, 01:39am

    Matt, to answer your last question--The Bell Jar.

    How do you define 'successful?'

    Ann, I've read all her books, though it's been some time, and will fill in soon.

    More later, just in from work and class. Peace...

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