50 Great Novels About Madness

Not so much into March Madness? Well, perhaps you should look at it another way. March is the perfect month for reading books about madness — it is a transitional time, after all, possessed of both lion and lamb. Plus, you’ll have ample reading time, both outside and inside. The books herein, it should be noted, are those that deal with a kind of literary madness — obsession and absurdity and hallucination — not directly focusing on mental illness proper, whenever the two can be separated. So you won’t find The Bell Jar or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or The Yellow Wallpaper here, though those are all excellent reads.

lolita

Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov

Nabokov’s most famous work is first and foremost a novel of obsession, of love-madness taken to the most devastating extreme. Humbert Humbert is afflicted by something even he can’t understand, a desperate, gleaming urge that makes him loathe himself as much as he loves his prey. It’s terrifying, when you think about it, but it makes for some damn beautiful prose.