Every humanities class has that one student who loves to share their contentious opinion, no matter how one- sided the topic may seem, to stir up some drama.
Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in may since 1949. This month is meant to raise awareness of those living with mental or behavioral health issues and to help reduce the stigma so many experience. For that reason, in this article we’re talking about 5 famous authors who lived with mental illness, and how that affected their work.
[Trigger warning for depression, and suicide.]
1. Silvia Plath
Silvia Plath is perhaps one of the most famous examples of an author with mental illness. Her life and work were greatly affected by her illness; there is even something called the “Sylvia Plath Effect,” which is the phenomenon that poets are more susceptible to mental illness than other creative writers. She was diagnosed with depression when she was 20 years old, and consequently died of suicide at age 30. In her novel, The Bell Jar, Plath describes the decline of main character Esther into a depressive episode and her stay in a psychiatric ward, which mirrors Silvia’s own life.
2. Leo Tolstoy
Often regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time, Leo Tolstoy also battled with depression. After writing his novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, the writer began experiencing depression, and even went as far as rejecting his literary success and calling Anna Karenina and “abomination.” During his early fifties (the years he struggled with depression), Leo wrote A Confession, a short work on the subject of melancholia, philosophy and religion.
3. Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf is another author who severely struggled with depression, and it is also now agreed upon that she had bipolar disorder. Around 1910 she had been admitted three times to a “private nursing home for women with nervous disorder.” Her novel Mrs. Dalloway is a manifesto of mental health awareness, and in it she criticizes the medical establishment and medical discourse surrounding mental illness at the time.
4. Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway had a very complicated history of mental health. He suffered from severe depression, paranoid delusions and bipolar disorder, which were exacerbated by a history of alcoholism, severe head injuries, and a genetic disorder known as hemochromatosis. His family was also greatly impacted by mental health issues, and his father, brother, and sister (and himself) all died by suicide. His granddaughter Mariel, now a mental health advocate, created a documentary called, “Running From Crazy,” which reveals the impact mental illness had on her family.
5. Zelda Fitzgerald
Perhaps less famously than her husband F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda — the novelist, socialite, and painter — also struggled greatly with her mental health. She was in and out of mental hospitals during the 1930s and 1940s, and although she was diagnosed with schizophrenia, it is agreed today that a more accurate diagnosis would’ve been bipolar disorder. During her time at the mental hospital she experienced a rush of creativity and wrote Save Me the Waltz as part of her therapy.
The complicated lives of these writers highlight the importance of destigmatizing mental health, as well as the importance of accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.
Featured image via lletraferits
Happy birthday to one of the most acclaimed classic writers of the world: Leo Tolstoy. The Russian writer wrote numerous novels that have become literary mainstays, such as Anna Karenina, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, and War And Peace. Surely you’ve heard of at least one of them, although you may not have actually read them.
Tolstoy was born in Tula Province, Russia in 1828. In the 1860s, he wrote his most famous novel, which we’ve already mentioned: War And Peace. Initially published serially, later collected into a single volume, spanning the period of 1805 to 1820. Since its publication, it has been regarded as Tolstoy’s finest achievement and a huge high mark of literature in general.
Image via Amazon
Tolstoy continued to write fiction throughout the 1880s and 1890s, until his death in 1910. But War And Peace remains his most famous achievement, understandably so. He spent the better of the 1860s toiling over his epic masterpiece. Portions of it were first published in The Russian Messenger, where it was first titled “The Year of 1805.” More chapters were released, until Tolstoy eventually finished in 1868. Both critics and the public were buzzing about the novel’s historical accounts of the Napoleonic Wars, combined with its thoughtful development of realistic yet fictional characters. The novel also uniquely incorporated three long essays satirizing the laws of history. Among the ideas that Tolstoy extols in War and Peace is the belief that the quality and meaning of one’s life is mainly derived from his day-to-day activities.
Image via Wikipedia
After War And Peace, Tolstoy followed it with Anna Karenina, where the first line is among his most famous quotes. It said:
‘All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’
This book was published in installments from 1873 to 1877. The royalties earned from both novels made Tolstoy rich, contributing to his growing status as a beloved author. However, after Anna Karenina, Tolstoy grew depressed and suffered a spiritual crisis. He attempted to find answers in the Russian Orthodox Church but they did not have any answers that satisfied him. He wound up developing his own system of beliefs and expressed them in further books he wrote in the 1880s. However, this cost him to be ousted from the Church and watched by the secret police. This perhaps contributed to his dwindling popularity, with the exception of The Death of Ivan Illyich, which found acclaim and popularity.
Despite this, Tolstoy established himself as a moral and spiritual leader, influencing the likes of Ghandi among others. Also during his later years, Tolstoy reaped the rewards of international acclaim. Yet he still struggled to reconcile his spiritual beliefs with the tensions they created in his home life. His wife not only disagreed with his teachings, she disapproved of his disciples, who regularly visited Tolstoy at the family estate. Their troubled marriage took on an air of notoriety in the press. Anxious to escape his wife’s growing resentment, in October 1910, Tolstoy, his daughter, Aleksandra, and his physician, Dr. Dushan P. Makovitski, embarked on a pilgrimage. Valuing their privacy, they traveled incognito, hoping to dodge the press, to no avail.
He died in November in 1910, where he was buried in the family estate following his passing. He was survived by his wife and his 8 children he had with it. Today, Tolstoy is remembered as a masterpiece of a writer, with a gift for describing a character’s motives and remembering to focus on their everyday actions to describe their overall purpose.
Happy birthday, Tolstoy! Maybe crack open one of his novels and check him out today.
Featured Image Via The Guardian
In the preface to Les Misérables, Victor Hugo wrote:
As long as there are ignorance and poverty on Earth, books such as this one may not be useless.
Those words have held true. The book was published in 1862— over a 150 years ago—and it was a breakout hit that still hasn’t lost its popularity nor its relevance.
Image Via Manybooks
Image Via Time Magazine
Image Via Variety
Image Via Radio Times
Image Via PBS
Image Via WETA
“Lilly [Collins] was saying the other day that, you know, in one song lyric, in one line, she has a whole episode. You know, what happened to her? Where did she come from? Who did she fall in love with, how did he treat her? How did she end up a prostitute on the street? And we get to see all that. And so I think that anyone who loved the musical would really love this.”
A greater understanding of characters I already love? That’s got my ear, so I’ll tune in.Are you?
All audiobooks feel long when you’re unable to concentrate on them—so imagine how much trouble you’d have with these behemoths. To understand just how long a really long audiobook actually is, let’s compare that length to some more familiar reads. Fyodor Dostoyevsky‘s classic The Brothers Karamazov is famous as both a literary classic and a book you lied about reading, probably from fear of the decade it would take you to finish. It’s also famous for its staggering length: 824 pages and thirty-four hours. (Congratulations to yourselves for your patience, Dostoyevsky fans. And congratulations to those of you who listened to the audiobook.)
Image Via Lisanotes.com
If you’re not into the classics, the longest book you actually read might have been A Game of Thrones: a Song of Ice and Fire. That’s 624 pages and thirty-three hours. Some people call Audible the Netflix of audiobooks, but this audiobook would be much harder to binge. If these seem impossibly long to you, you’re going to have to adjust your standards. The Brothers Karamazov ranks #15 on the list of longest audiobooks, with A Song of Ice and Fire at a respectable #18. You might be asking yourself, “how are these not higher on the list?” This is how:
1. Fifty Lectures
Gif Via Gifycat.com
Takaaki Yoshimoto‘s Fifty Lectures is what the title would indicate: fifty lectures from Yoshimoto’s long tenure as a philosopher, poet, and literary critic. But the title doesn’t give any indication of the length… which is a lot longer than fifty hours. At 113 hours and forty-three minutes, Fifty Lectures is the longest audiobook of all time. You don’t have to do the math to tell how long that is—but if you did want to do the math, you’d know that listening to the book would take five full consecutive days. Since a commercial flight around the world takes fifty-one minimum hours, it would be faster to do it twice than listen to this entire book.
2. The Bible
Image Via Travelandleisure.com
Some people dedicate all their lives to their faith. Some people dedicate seventy-eight hours. At 752,702 words, the Bible is over three times as long as J.K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—which, at 198,000 words, seems like a short story in comparison.
3. War and Peace
Image Via Wordcounter.net
When you Google search Leo Tolstoy‘s War and Peace, the first suggestion is “War and Peace is so long.” Weighing nearly four pounds, War and Peace is also 1,251 pages and 587,287 words long, making it a serious heavy-hitter. It’s no wonder that, with a monumental page count, it’s sixty-two hours and eighteen minutes long. It would be a wonder if you managed to listen to the whole thing.
4. Les Miserables
Everyone attempting to actually read Les Mis
Image Via Pinterest.com
Fans sometimes affectionately, sometimes furiously, refer to Victor Hugo‘s monstrous novel as ‘The Brick.’ Since the novel is large enough to be used as a blunt force murder weapon, the comparison is appropriate. Les Miserables, a story of the rich cultural context of the French Revolution, is one of the world’s longest novels, 1,900 pages in its original French. Naturally, it also contains one of the world’s longest published sentences; this one is over 800 words. Maybe Victor Hugo can pull it off, but your English teacher won’t want you to try. If you can’t get through this sentence, you’re not going to make it through the fifty-six hours and fifty-four minutes of audiobook.
The son of a father to whom history will accord certain attenuating circumstances, but also as worthy of esteem as that father had been of blame; possessing all private virtues and many public virtues; careful of his health, of his fortune, of his person, of his affairs, knowing the value of a minute and not always the value of a year; sober, serene, peaceable, patient; a good man and a good prince; sleeping with his wife, and having in his palace lackeys charged with the duty of showing the conjugal bed to the bourgeois, an ostentation of the regular sleeping-apartment which had become useful after the former illegitimate displays of the elder branch; knowing all the languages of Europe, and, what is more rare, all the languages of all interests, and speaking them; an admirable representative of the “middle class,” but outstripping it, and in every way greater than it; possessing excellent sense, while appreciating the blood from which he had sprung, counting most of all on his intrinsic worth, and, on the question of his race, very particular, declaring himself Orleans and not Bourbon; thoroughly the first Prince of the Blood Royal while he was still only a Serene Highness, but a frank bourgeois from the day he became king; diffuse in public, concise in private; reputed, but not proved to be a miser; at bottom, one of those economists who are readily prodigal at their own fancy or duty; lettered, but not very sensitive to letters; a gentleman, but not a chevalier; simple, calm, and strong; adored by his family and his household; a fascinating talker, an undeceived statesman, inwardly cold, dominated by immediate interest, always governing at the shortest range, incapable of rancor and of gratitude, making use without mercy of superiority on mediocrity, clever in getting parliamentary majorities to put in the wrong those mysterious unanimities which mutter dully under thrones; unreserved, sometimes imprudent in his lack of reserve, but with marvellous address in that imprudence; fertile in expedients, in countenances, in masks; making France fear Europe and Europe France! Incontestably fond of his country, but preferring his family; assuming more domination than authority and more authority than dignity, a disposition which has this unfortunate property, that as it turns everything to success, it admits of ruse and does not absolutely repudiate baseness, but which has this valuable side, that it preserves politics from violent shocks, the state from fractures, and society from catastrophes; minute, correct, vigilant, attentive, sagacious, indefatigable; contradicting himself at times and giving himself the lie; bold against Austria at Ancona, obstinate against England in Spain, bombarding Antwerp, and paying off Pritchard; singing the Marseillaise with conviction, inaccessible to despondency, to lassitude, to the taste for the beautiful and the ideal, to daring generosity, to Utopia, to chimeras, to wrath, to vanity, to fear; possessing all the forms of personal intrepidity; a general at Valmy; a soldier at Jemappes; attacked eight times by regicides and always smiling; brave as a grenadier, courageous as a thinker; uneasy only in the face of the chances of a European shaking up, and unfitted for great political adventures; always ready to risk his life, never his work; disguising his will in influence, in order that he might be obeyed as an intelligence rather than as a king; endowed with observation and not with divination; not very attentive to minds, but knowing men, that is to say requiring to see in order to judge; prompt and penetrating good sense, practical wisdom, easy speech, prodigious memory; drawing incessantly on this memory, his only point of resemblance with Caesar, Alexander, and Napoleon; knowing deeds, facts, details, dates, proper names, ignorant of tendencies, passions, the diverse geniuses of the crowd, the interior aspirations, the hidden and obscure uprisings of souls, in a word, all that can be designated as the invisible currents of consciences; accepted by the surface, but little in accord with France lower down; extricating himself by dint of tact; governing too much and not enough; his own first minister; excellent at creating out of the pettiness of realities an obstacle to the immensity of ideas; mingling a genuine creative faculty of civilization, of order and organization, an indescribable spirit of proceedings and chicanery, the founder and lawyer of a dynasty; having something of Charlemagne and something of an attorney; in short, a lofty and original figure, a prince who understood how to create authority in spite of the uneasiness of France, and power in spite of the jealousy of Europe, — Louis Philippe will be classed among the eminent men of his century, and would be ranked among the most illustrious governors of history had he loved glory but a little, and if he had had the sentiment of what is great to the same degree as the feeling for what is useful.
That sentence was pretty much a brick of text all by itself.
Image Via Audible.com
David McCullough‘s biography of former U.S. President Harry S. Truman is 1,120 pages and 464,000 words, a giant clocking in at fifty-three hours and twenty minutes of audiobook time. Think that’s wild? You’d be right—and at $94 to listen, the price is even crazier. Truman might not be the longest audiobook, but it is the most expensive. If the length doesn’t deter you, the cost might… or maybe your interest in Harry S. Truman surpasses all your other instincts.