Frances Wilson

In Praise of Mad Books

There is a category of literature, not yet officially recognised, consisting of mad books. I have been interested in this genre for some time and am in the process of compiling a canon of such things. Mad books are by no means bad books; some, such as William Hazlitt’s Liber Amoris – a feverish account of his sexual obsession with Sarah Walker, the landlord’s daughter, narrated through recollected conversations between a romantic hero identified as ‘H’ and a rejecting woman referred to as ‘S’ – are better than many sane books. Nor are mad books necessarily about madness or written in that state: many a writer of sound mind has produced a mad book. In fact, the existence of the rogue mad book in an author’s otherwise stable oeuvre can seal his or her greatness. 

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • What a charming, candid blogpost from one of our dear contributing editors. ,
    • RT : The first guess from one of my 1st graders was “death” and such an awed, somber, reflective hush fell over the clas… ,
    • Merry Christmas from Literary Review! Hope your stockings were laden with books, and the tree bending under the weight of further books....,
    • Last minute Christmas gift required? We're offering discounts on all our subscriptions (20% no less!) with the cod… ,
    • In this issue's 'Silenced Voices', Lucy Popescu writes of Thailand's restrictive lese-majesty laws and their latest… ,
    • "Gunn was a disciple of the American formalist Yvor Winters, but Winters’s poetry could never give off such a scent… ,
    • Christmas gift hunting? Why not give the gift of being even better read? We're offering discounts on all our subscr… ,