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Dream, Creativity, and Madness in Nineteenth-Century France$
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Tony James

Print publication date: 1995

Print ISBN-13: 9780198151883

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198151883.001.0001

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‘Artistic Hallucination’ from Brierre de Boismont to Taine

‘Artistic Hallucination’ from Brierre de Boismont to Taine

(p.158) 14 ‘Artistic Hallucination’ from Brierre de Boismont to Taine
Dream, Creativity, and Madness in Nineteenth-Century France

Tony James

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on two novelists: Brierre de Boismont and Taine. Balzac left significant texts on which new light was thrown by his sister's biography, critical articles by Gautier, who knew him, and Taine whose critical acumen was considerable. Brierre de Boismont uses these texts to present a Balzac subject to ‘physiological hallucination’. Taine, who has read the chapter in Brierre de Boismont in which he himself is cited, apparently realizes the value for psychology of being able to question artists of ‘exceptional lucidity’ and draws up a series of questions which he puts to Gustave Dore, to a mathematician, to a chess-player, and to Flaubert. Brierre de Boismont was concerned with an argument about the normality, in certain instances, of hallucination; Taine with an analysis of mental imagery. Although these two authors are the first thinkers on dreams to show an interest in contemporary creative writers and artists, creativity was not dealt with for its own sake, but only as an important adjunct to another argument.

Keywords:   Brierre de Boismont, Taine, hallucinations, normality, mental imagery, Gautier

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