Diagnosing Genius

Diagnosing Genius

The Life and Death of Beethoven

Book - 2007
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Beethoven's extraordinary ability to compose great music despite severe health problems, including deafness and depression, has puzzled and inspired. In Diagnosing Genius François Martin Mai looks at the relationship between Beethoven's health and creativity to show how the composer was able to transcend physical and emotional torment to produce some of the most powerful and beautiful music in Western culture. Mai's experience as a physician and psychiatrist serves as a basis for his analysis. Working from the symptoms described in the medical evidence, Beethoven's letters and those of his friends, and the reports of his physicians, Mai compares how Beethoven's health complaints would have been understood and treated within the medical, political, and social climate of both his time and ours. He discusses Beethoven's terminal illness and the resulting autopsy report to consider the roles of alcohol, lead poisoning (based on the toxic levels in his hair), and syphilis in causing his death. Diagnosing Genius also analyses the psychology of creativity. Mai shows that even though Beethoven's infirmities led to physical pain, isolation, and torturous relationships, they enhanced, perhaps even fed, his genius and suggests that other artists may have overcome similar problems.
Publisher: Montreal, QC : McGill-Queen's University Press, c2007
ISBN: 9780773531901
Branch Call Number: 780.92 BEE MAI
Characteristics: xviii, 270 p. : ill., facsims., ports. ; 24 cm

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