Tag Archives: hysteria

Hustvedt, Siri. What I have loved

whatloved   whatloved3d

In 1975 art historian Leo Hertzberg discovers an extraordinary painting by an unknown artist in a New York gallery. He buys the work, tracks down its creator, Bill Weschler, and the two men embark on a life-long friendship.

This is the story of their intense and troubled relationship, of the women in their lives and their work, of art and hysteria, love and seduction and their sons – born the same year but whose lives take very different paths.

Publisher: Sceptre
Year: 2004
ISBN-10: 0340682388

Gilman, CP. The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories

Fictional account of one woman’s experience of ‘hysteria’ in the early twentieth century.

Title: The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories
Author: Gilman, Charlotte Perkins
Publisher: Dover Publications Inc
Year: 1998
ISBN: 0486298574

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This is a really interesting story and one of the best explorations of psychiatric illness I’ve come across. I can’t remember all the details but I think the story is fairly autobiographical, about the authors own experience of postnatal depression (and psychosis?) compounded by the ideas about psychiatry and women) at the time.
On becoming depressed after the birth of her child the character is shut away for ‘rest’ in a kind of solitary confinement. With nothing else to do she begins to fixate on the yellow wallpaper in the her room. (Its better than it sounds!)

Even if you ignore the psychiological element this is a great wee gothic story. The added depth of mental illness under the guise of the supernatural reminds me of ‘the turn of the screw’ by James, another good, short read which was written around the same period

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A short, short story that packs a lot in – you could read it for the gothic E.A. Poe feel, for the feminist critique of male and medical dominance, for the striking visual motif of that patchy yellow wallpaper, for the ‘descent’ into madness. I’ve just read it in the time it took to take a bath – so don’t worry that this is a lengthy tome!