Two inspiring books on Depression and Creativity

By August 1, 2018Life matters

Two very inspiring books on depression: the first book is Anthony Storr’s, “Churchill’s Black Dog, Kafka’s Mice, and other Phenomena of the Human Mind” (Grove Press, New York, 1988).

This book of essays is worth acquiring, if just for the first and main long essay on Churchill and depression. (I found a subsequent chapter on Kafka, whose writing remains an unconquered territory for me, far less compelling). The book provides some of the most incisive insights into Churchill and his career that I have read. It has also prompted me to track down Churchill’s early and only novel, Savrola, published in 1900, which I look forward to reading, and to which I had previously not come across any reference.

One passage from Storr stands out for me, and is worth quoting at length:

“In 1940, any political leader might have tried to rally Britain with brave words, although his heart was full of despair. But only a man who had known and faced despair within himself could carry conviction at such a moment. Only a man who knew what it was to discern a gleam of hope in a hopeless situation, whose courage was beyond reason, and whose aggressive spirit burned at its fiercest when he was hemmed in and surrounded by enemies, could have given emotional reality to the words of defiance which rallied and sustained us in the menacing summer of 1940. Churchill was such a man: and it was because, all his life, he had conducted a battle with his own despair that he could convey to others that despair can be overcome”

Having to work hard to keep my own “black dog” at bay and on a leash, there are only a couple of books on depression that I find inspiring and encouraging, and this is one of them. Another is Rebecca Hunt’s novel, “Mr Chartwell” (2000), which also revolves around Churchill and captures the essence of depression like few fiction writers have.

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