Madness

A

lmost all of Jack Smith’s novels—rich in imaginative situations that challenge the choices of his unique characterizations—find the source of their conundrums in the application of specific philosophical systems. This one, Madness, is actually based on his personifications of real philosophers struggling with the human applications of their theoretical assumptions.    

   Madness—at least bizarre behavior—runs though the novel with a variety of manifestations, such as the virulent antisemitism of Wagner and of Nietzsche’s sister Elisabeth and her husband, the obsession with the Rhine by the professorial husband of one of the women who fascinates Meister, the violent act of that woman herself, the emotional denials of another woman, and Meister’s own abnormal clinging to Nietzsche in hope of receiving the answers he hungers for.

Walter Cummins, Foreword

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