Research Report 2007

Publications by writers and editors at Memorial University

Memoirs and Madness: Leonid Andreev Through the Prism of the Literary Portrait

By Dr. Frederick White

Book Cover: Memoirs and Madness

Memoirs and Madness examines memoir as a literary genre, investigates the creation of Leonid Andreev's posthumous legacy by his contemporaries, and explores the possibility that Andreev, Russia's leading literary figure at the beginning of the 20th century, suffered from mental illness.

Dr. Frederick White's primary focus is A Book About Leonid Andreev (1922), the most important collection of memoirs dedicated to the Russian author, presented here in the first English translation. The agendas of the memoirists resulted in portraits that have influenced how Andreev is read and spoken about to the present day.

Dr. White pays special attention to Andreev's history of mental illness, which the memoirists described with vague terms such as "creative energy" or "inner turmoil." Past scholarship has focused on philosophical and sociological factors in the author's life but this concentration on his mental health provides a fruitful approach to deciphering the literary portraits.

Portrait of Dr. Frederick White

Dr. Frederick White

Dr. White also includes a critical study of Andreev and his posthumous legacy that helps decipher the ways in which mental illness is represented in these influential literary portraits.

According to Avram Brown, German and Russian department at the University of California, "White investigates statements about Andreev's life in greater depth than I have seen and goes further than any before in arguing that mental illness was more powerful in shaping Andreev than any other singular event in his life."

Memoirs and Madness is published by McGill-Queen's University Press.