Il primo error
Il primo error
Love-Melancholy and Romance in the Gerusalemme Liberata
This chapter examines love-melancholy and romance in Torquato Tasso's epic Gerusalemme Liberata, which tells the story of Tancredi and his obsessive love for Clorinda. When Tancredi finds out that the mysterious adversary whom he has killed is in fact Clorinda, he is transformed at once into a sorrowing lover and never enjoys a release from his melancholy. Tancredi's melancholic love for Clorinda has transformed her into a maternal object whose loss cannot be fully realized. Moreover, the phantasmic reappearance of Clorinda in the enchanted wood is symptomatic of a primo error. Focusing on Tancredi as a melancholic figure, the chapter relocates his story within the early modern medical tradition of love-melancholy and considers in particular the influence of the Lucretian/Ficinian model of an eroticized furor that seeks an impossible fusion with a quasi-maternal figure. It also describes the central episode in the enchanted wood, in which Tancredi's self-defeating pursuit of the phantasmic Clorinda involves him in the kind of melancholic atra voluptas that overwhelms Petrarch.
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