Madness and genius – James Boswell

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Both Fitzherbert and Allen, whose accounts formed the basis of earlier podcasts in this series, saw their mental condition as a burden to themselves and others. During the Renaissance in the century before they lived, some scholars instead revived the classical Greek idea that there could be a connection between madness and genius. This became a prominent feature of the eighteenth-century intellectual movement called the Enlightenment. One of its best-known and most prolific exponents was Scots-born the lawyer James Boswell, a friend of Samuel Johnson and a fellow sufferer from depression or melancholia. In the extract Boswell toys with the idea that what we might describe as manic depressives had special intellectual abilities, setting the tone for many subsequent attempts to link madness and creativity.

You can find Boswell’s extract here  or you can listen to a voice extract on our soundcloud stream using the link below.

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