Degeneration, decadence and disease in the Russian fin de siècle

Neurasthenia in the life and work of Leonid Andreev

By Frederick White

Degeneration, decadence and disease in the Russian fin de siècle


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Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-9164-3
  • Pages: 304
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: July 2014
  • BIC Category: Literature, Literature: history & criticism, Literary theory, Eastern Europe, LITERARY CRITICISM / Drama, LITERARY CRITICISM / Russian & Former Soviet Union, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: plays & playwrights, Literature & literary studies / Literary theory
  • Series: Durham Modern Languages Series


Early in the twentieth century, Russia was experiencing a decadent period of cultural degeneration just as science was developing ways to identify medical conditions which supposedly reflected the health of the entire nation. Leonid Andreev, the leading literary figure of his time, stepped into the breach of this scientific discourse with literary works about degenerates. The spirited social debates on mental illness, morality and sexual deviance which resulted from these works became part of the ongoing battle over the definition and depiction of the irrational, complicated by Andreev's own publicised bouts with neurasthenia.

This book examines the concept of pathology in Russia, the influence of European medical discourse, the development of Russian psychiatry, and the role that it had in popular culture, by investigating the life and works of Andreev. It engages the emergence of psychiatry and the role that art played in the development of this objective science.


1. Degeneration and decadence
2. Diaries and diagnosis
3. Controversy and success
4. Loss and rebellion
5. Feigned and performed
6. Diaries and death


Frederick H. White is the Associate Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Utah Valley University

Degeneration, decadence and disease in the Russian fin de siècle

By Frederick White

Hardcover £85.00 / $130.00

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