From Library Journal
In this fascinating book, Hughes explores the lives of famous "creatives," from Plato to Vincent Van Gogh to chess player Bobby Fisher, observing that the "creative process requires, at least in some of its operations, a state of consciousness that is dramatically, sometimes dangerously altered." The book becomes especially absorbing when Hughes considers the effects of brain chemistry, illness (including mental illness), and drug use on the work of famous "creatives." Hughes speculates that the "death wish" expressed in some of Keats's poetry and the "sweet sadness" in Chopin's nocturnes might have resulted from their tuberculosis. He also considers Faulkner's manic depression, surmises that Sir Isaac Newton was a schizophrenic, and shows how opium, hashish, cannabis, and cocaine might have influenced the art and activities of many "creatives." This thoroughly enthralling book will appeal to anyone interested in the components of creativity, whether or not they agree with Hughes's premises. Highly recommended.ARobert T. Ivey, Univ. of Memphis
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