Sanity, Madness, Transformation: The Psyche in Romanticism

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9780802038418: Sanity, Madness, Transformation: The Psyche in Romanticism

In Sanity, Madness, Transformation, Ross Woodman offers an extended reflection on the relationship between sanity and madness in Romantic literature. Woodman is one of the field’s most distinguished authorities on psychoanalysis and romanticism. Engaging with the works of Northrop Frye, Jacques Derrida, Sigmund Freud, and Carl Jung, he argues that madness is essential to the writings of William Blake, William Wordsworth, and Percy Shelley, and that it has been likewise fundamental to the emergence of the modern subject in psychoanalysis and literary theory. For Frye, madness threatens humanism, whereas for Derrida its relationship is more complex, and more productive. Both approaches are informed by Freudian and Jungian responses to the psyche, which, in turn, are drawn from an earlier Romantic ambivalence about madness.

This work, which began as a collection of Woodman’s essays assembled by colleague Joel Faflak, quickly evolved into a new book that approached Romanticism from an original psychoanalytic perspective by returning madness to its proper place in the creative psyche. Sanity, Madness, Transformation is a provocative hybrid of theory, literary criticism, and autobiography and is yet another decisive step in a distinguished academic career.

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About the Author:

Ross Woodman is a professor emeritus in the Department of English at the University of Western Ontario.

Review:

‘Sanity, Madness, Transformation is a theoretical landmark, a work of genius and importance that shows how high Romantic poetry creates psychoanalysis, how there is more to that creation than Freud, and how understanding its healing power is essential to the continuation of our species and our world. Much can be said about the beauties of Woodman’s writing and his incredible theoretical insights. This book is simply stellar.’

(Laura C. Mandell, Department of English, Miami University)

‘Sanity, Madness, Transformation is a searching, intelligent, and relentlessly interrogative book brimming with gorgeous and densely forceful analyses of Romantic theory and critical practice. Grounded in elegant and original readings, Ross Woodman’s work is an illuminating, attractive, and involving meditation on its own contemporaneity, written with constant reference to what critical thought is here and now. This is a Biographia Literaria for the twenty-first century.’

(David L. Clark, Department of English, McMaster University)

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