Skip to Main Content (Press Enter)
A Visionary Madness by Mike Jay
Add A Visionary Madness to bookshelf
Add to Bookshelf

A Visionary Madness

Best Seller
A Visionary Madness by Mike Jay
Paperback $16.95
Jan 07, 2014 | ISBN 9781583947173

Buy from Other Retailers:

  • Jan 07, 2014 | ISBN 9781583947173

    Buy from Other Retailers:

Product Details


From the foreword: “I have never seen the logic of madness, of a particular delusion, presented so clearly and convincingly … a wonderful book to read, combining exceptional scholarship and psychological insight with deep empathy for the tormented but always gentle and dignified Matthews. And it is beautifully written, with all the drama, the rich characterization, the subtlety, of a fine novel.”
—Oliver Sacks, MD, author of Hallucinations

“It’s The Manchurian Candidate for the eighteenth century … an exhilarating cloak-and-dagger narrative. Jay brilliantly evokes the torrid atmosphere of 1790s London and Paris, intertwined with his account of the wondrously strange life and intellect of history’s first recognisable case of schizophrenia.”
—The Guardian

“Jay deftly places Matthews into the context of a tumultuous era. His madness was a cracked mirror, reflecting crazed shards of mesmerism, galvanism, steam engines, and revolutionary intrigue. But his dilemma remains timeless.”
—Village Voice

“Jay has proposed an ambitious, comprehensive, and extremely interesting interpretation of Matthews and his delusion, and of schizophrenia in general … its analysis of mental illness, mad-doctoring and the world of the patient is original and intellectually thrilling. Not least, the narrative is immensely readable.”
—History of Psychiatry
“Brilliant … a salutary lesson for those who would give a voice to the mad, whether mesmerists, psychiatrists, or historians. Such work demands the kind of kind of sympathy and insight that Jay demonstrates in his riveting account.”
Medical History
“A riveting and affecting tale … Jay sets Matthews’ extraordinary life vividly in its dangerous times and in a final flourish sheers away to other times that have their complement of mind-controlling machines—our own.”
New Scientist
“Free of academic jargon, delicately nuanced but taut with drama … one of the most rewarding works on madness and its history that I have ever read. Psychiatrists will obviously find much to interest them in this book and they should applaud the balance of its perspective … The book’s greatest triumph, however, lies in its seamless fusion of biography, history, and cultural criticism. Whilst telling us Matthews’ fascinating story, Jay also shows us how his life was shaped by the turbulence of the age and how the dilemmas he faced prefigured some of our own.”
Literary Review
“Gripping as well as profound … Jay’s narrative is structured for maximum effect, and themes woven in strand by strand until they run into a multi-coloured fabric.”
The Independent
“Beautifully balanced and fiercely energetic … an important contribution to the historical debate, a paean to the logic of lunacy and a promise that, at least for now, remote mind-control is probably no more than a fiction. Probably.”
The Spectator

Looking for More Great Reads?
21 Books You’ve Been Meaning to Read
Get the latest updates about Mike Jay
And go from well-read to best read with book recs, deals and more in your inbox every week.
And go from well-read to best read with book recs, deals and more in your inbox every week.
By clicking “SIGN UP”, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to Penguin Random House’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use and understand that Penguin Random House collects certain categories of personal information for the purposes listed in that policy, discloses, sells, or shares certain personal information and retains personal information in accordance with the policy. You can opt-out of the sale or sharing of personal information anytime.
Something awesome is on its way.
Back to Top