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The Secret WoundLove-Melancholy and Early Modern Romance$
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Marion A. Wells

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780804750462

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804750462.001.0001

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Love-Melancholy and Early Modern Romance

(p.1) Introduction
The Secret Wound
Stanford University Press

This book explores the complex literary/medical discourse of “amorous melancholy,” or “love-melancholy,” in relation to early modern romance. It argues that the medical profile of the erotic melancholic, whose judgment is subverted by the obsessive thought patterns (assidua cogitatio) and corrupt imagination that characterizes this disease constitutes a crucial model for the questing subject of romance. The book offers a historical and theoretical account of the medical and philosophical bases of love-melancholy as a disease of the imagination. It examines the significance of three early modern romances for Romanticism: Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, Torquato Tasso's Gerusalemme Liberata, and Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene. The book also looks at Marsilio Ficino's De amore (1469), focusing on the complex medical history that makes possible Ficino's own commentary on love-melancholy and its relationship with grief and contemporary psychoanalytic theory. Furthermore, it discusses the philosophical and medical subplot of romance's story of atra voluptas and its attendant torments, with an emphasis on how this subplot gives voice to a robustly anti-Platonic insistence on the irreplaceability of the unique beloved.

Keywords:   love-melancholy, romance, Romanticism, Orlando Furioso, Gerusalemme Liberata, Faerie Queene, atra voluptas, grief, De amore, psychoanalytic theory

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