‘Th’ Unbalanc’d Mind’: Poetry, Satire and the Assimilation of Madness

  • Allan Ingram
  • Michelle Faubert

Abstract

In reconstructing Homer’s Achilles, Pope not only wrote his own way out of a tricky moral dilemma, one that had the capacity to unsteady an entire neoclassical culture. He also created a model in which the mental insecurity of the hero became a meetingplace for the tensions of his time and place, or, more accurately, of his constructor’s apprehensions about time and place. If, as G.S. Rousseau puts it, ‘we recognize that malady — among the various thermometers, so to speak, by which cultures measure themselves and are measured — is among the most accurate’,1 then Pope’s insane hero is indeed a measure of heroic culture, but in particular of the perception of that culture from the time and place of a very different one. Equally, recovered and reconciled, the hero comfortably approaches the values and norms of a culture that needs to find something beyond thuggery in heroism. To that extent, too, mad Achilles in all his forms is an accurate indicator of the anguish, or ease, of his recreator.

Keywords

Dust Mold Coherence Assure Assimilation 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    G.S. Rousseau, ‘War and Peace: Some Representations of Nostalgia and Adventure in the Eighteenth Century’, in Guerres et paix: la Grande-Bretagne au XVIII siècle, ed. Paul-Gabriel Boucé, Paris: Presses de la Sourbonne Nouvelle, 1998, I, 124. Rousseau credits the metaphor to Terry Castle.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Allan Ingram 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allan Ingram
  • Michelle Faubert

There are no affiliations available

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