Dream, Creativity, and Madness in Nineteenth-Century France

Synopsis

Those wishing to know the nature of madness, wrote Voltaire, should observe their dreams. This is an important new analysis of the problematic relationship between dreams and madness that preoccupied nineteenth-century French writers, thinkers, and doctors. Tony James shows how doctors (such as Esquirol, Lelut, and Janet), thinkers (including Maine de Biran and Taine), and writers (Balzac, Nerval, Baudelaire, Victor Hugo, and Rimbaud) grappled in very different ways with the problems raised by the so-called "phenomena of sleep" and particularly the question: might dreams be a source of creativity?