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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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Il primo error

Il primo error

Love-Melancholy and Romance in the Gerusalemme Liberata

Chapter:
(p.137) Chapter 4 Il primo error
Source:
The Secret Wound
Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804750462.003.0005

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.

Keywords:   love-melancholy, romance, Torquato Tasso, epic, Gerusalemme Liberata, primo error, obsessive love, furor, atra voluptas, Petrarch

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