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on 27 September 2001
I have just completed a dissertation on "Das Thema des Wahnsinns in "Der heiligen Caecilie" (Heinrich von Kleist), "Dem Sandmann" (E.T.A. Hoffmann), und "Lenz" (Goerg Buechner). This book was invaluable to the theme of madness and schizophrenia and how they manifest themselves in the character Lenz (and Woyzeck for that matter) and even offered comparisons with Kleist's novel (namely "Michael Kohlhaas") and even some of Hoffmann's work, including "Der Sandmann". The breakdown of the approach to madness was made accessible to me by the fact that it was put into three simple parts, each of which outlined different aspects of the madness as shown by Lenz. I had not neccessarily appreciated the existential aspect of Lenz' madness and was enthralled to suddenly see what had been somewhat baffling me (in that how the mental illness arose was unclear) and then the logical idea that Lenz might actually not be able to appreciate his role in society and his deep inner fear at things outside his control and his own question of existence, brought clarity to my thoughts. This work goes far, further than anything else that I have read on this subject, in explaining some of the seeming paradoxes in Lenz' psyche. I strongly recommend that anyone reading 19th century German novels, in which the theme of madnes plays a part, should get access at all costs to this book. Crighton's extremely comprehensive study highlights all the key factors in Buechner's mad characters and is a good base for comparison.
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