A critical study of Leonid Andreev as a "mad literary genius."
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 twentieth century, suffered from mental illness.
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. 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.