The problem of madness has preoccupied Russian thinkers since the beginning of Russia's troubled history and has been dealt with repeatedly in literature, art, film, and opera, as well as medical, political, and philosophical essays. Madness has been treated not only as a medical or psychological matter, but also as a metaphysical one, encompassing problems of suffering, imagination, history, sex, social and world order, evil, retribution, death, and the afterlife.
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Madness and the Mad in Russian Culture represents a joint effort by American, British, and Russian scholars - historians, literary scholars, sociologists, cultural theorists, and philosophers - to understand the rich history of madness in the political, literary, and cultural spheres of Russia. Editors Angela Brintlinger and Ilya Vinitsky have brought together essays that cover over 250 years and address a wide variety of ideas related to madness - from the involvement of state and social structures in questions of mental health, to the attitudes of major Russian authors and cultural figures towards insanity and how those attitudes both shape and are shaped by the history, culture, and politics of Russia.