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A Visionary Madness

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

Also available from:

  • Jan 07, 2014 | ISBN 9781583947173

    Also available from:

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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

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