24 Jul

“True! –nervous –very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses –not destroyed –not dulled them…… How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily –how calmly I can tell you the whole story.”  The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

WHEN writers were few and far between, succeeding in not finding themselves was a grand achievement. Their words did not skim across a screen with the tap of a lettered-key, but were indelibly imbued into fine parchment with the stroke of a pen. Writers did not just jump off the edge, they welcomed the flight with eagerness. Some were mistakenly referred to as ‘mad’, when indeed it was the sheer brilliance that skirted the madness, if indeed madness in them existed, that should have been distinguished:

“There came a light tap at the library door, and pale as the tenant of a tomb, a menial entered upon tiptoe. His looks were wild with terror, and he spoke to me in a voice tremulous, husky, and very low…”  Berenice/Edgar A. Poe (1809-1849)

“The manager peered through the open door, rubbing the sleep from his heavy eyes, and saw a young giant walk into the clearing. In one hand was a rifle, across his shoulders a heavy deer under which he moved as if it were weightless. He was dressed roughly in blue overalls and woolen shirt open at the throat. Coat he had none, and on his feet, instead of brogans, were moccasins.” The Abysmal Brute/Jack London (1876-1916)


 “Even sleep, that deplorable curtailment of the joy of life, can be full of dreams; and the most common actions—a walk, a talk, solitude in one’s own orchard—can be enhanced and lit up by the association of the mind. Beauty is everywhere, and beauty is only two finger’s-breadth from goodness. So, in the name of health and sanity, let us not dwell on the end of the journey.” The Common Reader ~ Montaigne/Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

“It was October in 1913, midway in a week of pleasant days, with the sunshine loitering in the cross-streets and the atmosphere so languid as to seem weighted with ghostly fallen leaves. It was pleasant to sit by the open window ….” The Beautiful and Damned/F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)

“I live in Brooklyn. By choice. Those ignorant of its allures are entitled to wonder why. For, taken as a whole, it is an uninviting community. A veritable veldt of tawdriness where even the noms des quartiers aggravate…” A House on the Heights/Truman Capote (1924-1984)

Purposely, I have chosen obscure works to demonstrate the genius of just some of the writers whose lives lived were far more ‘mad’ than their words. 

Be I so MAD ..

Painting by Zurab Janiashvili

On the Edge of Madness/Oil on Canvas


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