About the book

A trip to the intrahistory of asylums of all time

History is written by the supposedly sane but also by the supposedly crazy. Or those who pass for crazy. Asylums, today “psychiatric hospitals”, arouse curiosity, morbidity and even fear in us. Throughout history they have served to heal, but also to seclude, to forget, to separate from society people who are difficult to fit into a conventional society. Asylums serve as a common thread for Fernando Gómez to tell hundreds of curious lives, stories outside the “normal”, anecdotes and historical data about unique buildings.

In Journey to the Center of the Asylums, the protagonist of Fernando Gómez’s two previous books (about cemeteries and prisons) writes letters to the author during the pandemic and in each one he talks to him about a different asylum. The book is not limited to collecting a simple description of buildings that housed madmen, but rather nuances and anecdotes of the madmen and the sane people who lived in them. In short, the intra-history of asylums told in another way.

The stories in this volume are full of anecdotes, some very unpleasant and others more accessible, there are even some funny ones and, without a doubt, all of them surprising. It includes a movie and a song at the end of each chapter that have some relationship with the asylum, as well as some quotes from well-known people.

This original book covers famous asylums, such as La Salpêtrière in Paris or those that had famous artists, politicians or writers within their walls, but also other more unknown ones full of curious stories.

1. VAN GOGH Y EL HOSPITAL DE SAINT-PAUL-DE-MAUSOLE (Saint-Rémy-de-Provence) «In the Saint-Paul sanatorium, Van Gogh found the moments of tranquility he so needed. He is fascinated by the quality of the light and the color of the landscapes that surround Saint-Rémy. The painter does not stop producing works without rest, creating nearly one hundred and fifty paintings during his stay there, one hundred and fifty-three, say the most meticulous, to which must be added numerous drawings that he paints compulsively in just one year, such as If I couldn’t stop doing it. He continually asks his brother for canvases to continue with his work. He needs to be active. To the same extent that he does not stop painting, he also constantly writes letters to Theo.

2. CAMILE CLAUDEL AND THE HOSPITALS OF VILLE-EVRARD AND MONTDEVERGUES (Vaucluse) «Since the breakup, the passion that he previously felt for Rodin, he channeled into making sculptures. Her orders are piling up, but she has financial problems for not meeting the delivery date agreed upon with the gallery owners. Her health is weakening. It is then that madness visits her and the first symptoms of it appear, which manifest themselves with the massive destruction of her work. It is March 1913 and Camille Claudel has not created a new work for fifteen years. She lives apart from everyone. The only one who seems to understand her is her father, who always defends her against the opinion of her wife. The death of her father precipitates the events. After her funeral, her mother decides to admit her to a mental sanatorium.

3. HOSPITAL DE LA SALPÊTRIÈRE (Paris) «The women who were taken to be held in La Salpêtrière were those who were detained by the police, in the raids they systematically carried out in the poorest neighborhoods of Paris, and were not selected to be deported to Louisiana, in order to become the mothers who were needed in the colonies that France had in America. To get an idea of ​​how these women were transported to confinement, there is a painting painted around 1754 by Étienne Jeaurat entitled The Transport of Prostitutes to the Hospital of La Salpêtrière. The canvas shows a large number of women crammed into a cart, who are taken to the hospital to remove them from the streets of Paris for life.

Source: https://algunoslibrosbuenos.com/viaje-al-centro-de-los-manicomios

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