Nobody likes to see the normal. The popularity of fictional characters like Tyler Durden, Joker, and Hannibal Lecter bears a testament to this fact. Even most of the popular celebrities have something not-so-normal about them. Whether you take the case of Kanye West or Kurt Cobain or even Michael Jackson they are all deranged in their own unique way. And had they not been so, they would have never been popular. Their art made their insanity acceptable for people, and so most of us don’t think of them as insane.
One can, in fact, easily pass of one’s insanity through music, as it is supposed to be an expression of feelings, and not reason. However, in case of writing, this is not the case. Writing for the most part is an expression of reason, and so, any lack of it thereof makes us highly conscious of the sick mind behind the work. Usually, most of the authors are conscious about their madness and so they try to pass it of as agreeably as they can. But in certain rare cases, the insanity of the author so overpowers the work that the madness of the author becomes all but obvious. There might be hundreds of such books, but only few of them are insane from the beginning till the end. Let’s take a look at five such books.
5 Absolutely Insane Books and the Mad Authors Behind Them
1. My Twisted World by John Elliot Rodger
No one would have heard about this book, had it not been for what the author did after writing it. He went on a killing spree, killing 6 students, injuring 14 and finally committed suicide. The reason behind his behavior? It is well detailed in the book. Elliot Rodger was a 22-year-old virgin who had never even kissed a woman.He desired women, but at the same time he was terribly afraid of them. Caught in this Catch – 22 situation, his life gradually propelled towards madness. He wrote his autobiography or suicide note titled ‘My Twisted World’ and sent it to his psychiatrist, parents, and friends before going on his infamous mass murder spree.
The book is especially noted for the stupidity of its author and misogyny, but despite that it gives us a deep insight into the twisted American culture. Once it somehow leaked on the internet, the other involuntary celibate guys who could relate to the book hailed it as ‘The Incel Manifesto’ and the author Elliot Rodger as their hero. Although the book has quite a notorious reputation for provoking other mass murderers, it still gives us a chilling insight into how an undiagnosed mental illness coupled with a toxic society and dysfunctional family could make a happy-go-lucky kid grow up to become a mass murderer.
2. Sex and Character by Otto Weininger
We could’ve easily called Otto Weininger the spiritual grandfather of Elliot Rodger had he not been so extremely intelligent. Unlike Elliot Rodger, Weininger was an intellectual giant. Apart from his native German, Weininger knew Greek, Latin, French, Italian, English and tons of other language. He was well versed in psychology, philosophy, medicine and had read pretty much everything he could get his hands on by the time he was just 20. Whether it was all this reading and learning that sparked his madness or whether it was his madness that forced him to acquire so much knowledge is a matter of debate.
Weininger did something which Elliot Rodger would also have gladly done, but couldn’t do. Weininger wrote a book called ‘Sex and Character’. In the book, he tried his level best to give scientific reason as to why men are superior to women and why Aryans are superior to Jews. Sine science rarely categorizes something as superior and inferior, you can be assured of finding of plenty of Weininger’s emphatic rants and emotional outbursts in the book.
Weininger who himself was a Jew, became a protestant, but that wasn’t enough to tame his self-hatred. If you analyze the book, you might also find a lot of undiagnosed mental health issues that Weininger could have been suffering from when he wrote it. He might have been a homosexual and homophobic at the same time, and also might’ve had an Oedipus Complex that fueled his inferiority complex. In his book, he infamously claimed that Jews can never become geniuses. Later, when he kind of realized that he was doomed to be a Jew and not a genius, Weininger decided to take his own life. He was just 23 at that time.
3. Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
James Joyce is famous for writing Ulysses. The book which many consider to be one of the greatest and most influential books ever written. Even during his lifetime, Joyce was hailed as a genius. So, keeping this hype in mind, Joyce did what geniuses often do. He decided to take things to the next level. With Ulysses, Joyce had done literally everything he could do with the English language. So, for his new book, he formed his own language, which was a parody of every language that Joyce could get his hands on. It took Joyce 17 years to finish the book, and once he was done with it, he himself called it his masterpiece.
Whether Finnegan’s Wake is actually Joyce’s masterpiece or not is a matter of debate, as you’d need literally a lifetime to decode it and then read it. Joyce himself once jokingly said that ideally it should take around 17 years for a reader to finish reading Finnegan’s Wake. There are, nevertheless, readers around the world who have actually read the book. In fact, you’d even find translations of it in many languages. For most of normal readers, however, there exists a line between the genius and the madmen, and with Finnegan’s Wake, Joyce seems to have crossed that line.
4. 120 Days of Sodom by Marquise De Sade
If you know from where the word sadism derives its meaning, you must be having a rough idea about who Marquis De Sade was. He was basically a sadist. But unlike most of the sadists, he never tried to hide or even tone down his sadistic tendencies. He reveled freely in them. However, his behavior as a libertine didn’t go well with his country’s authorities. He was imprisoned so many times for it that he spent most of his entire adult life either in prisons or in mental asylums. It was during one of the periods of his imprisonment that De Sade wrote 120 Days of Sodom.
Intended to be the most impure text book ever written, the book completely lives up to the expectations of the author. It is about four wealthy, depraved, and lawless middle-aged men who, with the help of their accomplices, kidnap 16 teenage boys and girls, four elderly women and their own daughters. They abuse all the captives continuously for 37 days, and finally torture almost all of them to death.
This book was written in 1785 and is famous for showing the darkest side of humanity. It was said to have been lost until it was finally recovered and published in 1904 making the late Marquise famous, who, owing to his scandalous reputation, was even forgotten by his own family. Although many intellectuals have come forward in the defense of the book, but seriously, if this isn’t a book written by a madman, we don’t know what madness is anymore.
5. Kinski Uncut by Klaus Kinski
Klaus Kinski (who is also the father of Nastassja Kinski by the way) is regarded as one of the greatest German actors ever. He was particularly famous for playing the roles of villains, vampires, traitors and pretty much every other wicked being. But unlike most of the other actors who play negative characters, Kinski was no different in real life, or at least this is what everyone who knew him said of him.
The only possible advantage that Kinski really had was his self-awareness. He knew that he was wicked, but he tried his best to be even more wicked than he actually was, or at least this is what you could say of him if you read his autobiography. In the book, he made thousands of claims that are so obviously false that just reading about them makes one crack. Most of the readers have described it as nauseatingly vulgar and hilariously funny at the same time. But no one would even go against the claim that 99% of it is just lies (by the way, according to the book, Kinski once tried to eat a live cow). The only thing that is certain about this book is that its writer is mad, which is also the main reason behind its popularity.
While it would be a very bad idea to take inspiration from any of the five books mentioned in the article, we would suggest the readers to give these books a try in order to better understand human nature. Just make sure that you have enough of emotional maturity to handle their disturbing content.