The Secret Wound of Love-Melancholy
This chapter explores the theoretical continuity between Marsilio Ficino's original insights in De amore about the relationship of love-melancholy with grief and contemporary psychoanalytic theory. In particular, it looks at some of the continuities between classical and early modern theories of desire and contemporary psychoanalytic thought, and discusses psychoanalysis in relation to melancholia, with an emphasis on the connection between love and loss. In his interpretation of Lucretius's De rerum natura, Ficino illustrates not only Lucretius's argument that lovers wish metaphorically to “devour” the beloved, but also how pathological love is linked to unbearable grief. Drawing on the theories of mourning and melancholia developed by Sigmund Freud, Julia Kristeva, Maria Torok, and Nicolas Abraham, the chapter examines the useful theoretical connection between the psychoanalytic concept of melancholic “incorporation” and earlier writers' emphasis on the fantasy of devouring the beloved. It argues that love-melancholy exists as an often heavily disguised resistance to mourning a lost (or inaccessible) beloved.
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