Representing Mental Illness in Late Medieval France
Title Details

19th October 2018

374 Pages

23.4 x 15.6 cm

7 b/w. Illustrations

Series: Gallica

Imprint: D.S.Brewer

Representing Mental Illness in Late Medieval France

Machines, Madness, Metaphor

by Julie Singer

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An exploration of the medieval mind as a machine, and how it might be affected and immobiled, in textual reactions to the madness of Charles VI of France.
At the turn of the fifteenth century it must have seemed to many French people that the world was going mad. King Charles VI suffered his first bout of mental illness in 1392, and he underwent intermittent bouts of frenzy, melancholy and ever-scarcer lucidity until his death in 1422. The king's scarcely mentionable malady was mirrored at every level of social experience, from the irrational civil war through which the body politic tore itself apart, to reports of elevated suicide rates among the common people. In this political environment, where affairs of state were closely linked to the ruler's mental state, French writers sought new ways of representing the psychological dynamics of the body politic. This book explores the innovative mix of organic and inorganic metaphors through which they explored the relationship between mind, body and government at this period; in particular, it considers texts by such authors as Alan Chartier and Charles d'Orléans which describe mental illness and intellectual impairments through the notion of "rust".

JULIE SINGER is Associate Professor of French at Washington University, St. Louis.
Introduction: Oxidation Before Oxygen
Of Metal and Men
Une enroullere de sapience: Instituting Princely Virtues at the Court of Charles V
Metaphors of the Body Politic
Le fer en la playe
Alain Chartier's rooil de oubliance
Epilogue: Men Without Machines
Bibliography
Index
"Though scholars and popularizers have previously written on King Charles's madness and its cultural-historical context the timing as well as the approach of Julie Singer's latest book render it all the more meaningful to us nowadays. No stranger to exploring scientific models for literary texts, Singer also astutely begins by surveying the two more familiar approaches to mental illness, the medical and legal. This is especially valuable, even when treated briefly, because, as she asserts, while information on these aspects is comprehensive enough up through the thirteenth centuries, it remains 'largely in the shadows' for the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries." H-FRANCE.

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Title Details

19th October 2018

374 Pages

2.34 x 1.56 cm

7 b/w. Illustrations

Series: Gallica

Imprint: D.S.Brewer