What Do I Read Next?
Edgar Allan Poe’s Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe (1966) contains the short story “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether” in which a young man finds himself invited to a dinner party at a state institution for the insane. During the course of the meal, the so-called keepers of the institution tell the guest about the procedures of imprisonment that must be maintained to keep the insane people under control. As the dinner proceeds, the guest starts questioning the sanity of the keepers themselves. Poe explores the thin line between sanity and madness, a topic that nineteenth-century society found fascinating.
Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essays were one of the great influences in Dickinson’s life. Self- Reliance: The Wisdom of Ralph Waldo Emerson as Inspiration for Daily Living (1991) contains some of Emerson’s best essays, including “Self-Reliance,” “The Over-Soul,” and “Spiritual Laws.”
Michel Foucault is a French philosopher who focuses on social evolution. In Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason (1988), he expresses his thoughts on the history of how civilizations have dealt with insanity. Beginning in 1500, when the insane were simply considered eccentric, to the nineteenth century when asylums were in vogue, this book offers the reader a glimpse into the ever-changing role of people whose thoughts and/or behavior fell outside the boundaries of what was considered sane.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman first published the novella “The Yellow Wallpaper” in 1899. In this tale, she creates a narrator who is oppressed by her husband and who finds her freedom only by escaping into insanity. This story, which can be found in The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories (1989) published by Bantam Classics, has become a symbol of oppressed women in every age, despite the fact that it was written in the early part of the nineteenth century.
Edited by Diana Scott, Bread and Roses: An Anthology of 19th–20th Century Poetry by Women Writers (1983) is a collection that contains representative women poets from both Britain and the United States. This anthology offers a rare opportunity to gain an overall view of the women who were writing during both centuries as well as the topics that concerned them.
(The entire section is 552 words.)