By Sanja Bahun
Modernism and melancholia proportion an highbrow destiny: being without delay different types, stipulations, discourses, modes of expression, and social tasks, they feed all alone ambiguity. yet modernism and melancholia additionally proportion a heritage: it was once within the cultural-historical interval we tentatively time period "modernism" primary shift in our figuring out of melancholia happened. what's, then, the connection among modernism and melancholia? How does it relate to the historical past of the past due 19th and early 20th century? what's the social price of the linked cluster of symbolic rituals that we name mourning? Modernism and Melancholia addresses those questions, because it makes a speciality of the manifestations of melancholia in modernist fiction across the world.
Paying shut recognition to writings by means of Andrei Bely, Franz Kafka, and Virginia Woolf, Sanja Bahun identifies in modernist fiction a planned use of the symptomatology of melancholia to reinvigorate the style of the unconventional and deal with the complexities of latest background. Such an workout establishes writing as a mourning ritual that self-consciously refuses to "heal" or "cure." to explain this paradoxical writing perform, Bahun proposes the time period "countermourning." Reversing-or renewing-the ways that the conceptual scope of melancholia is used in modernist experiences, this research positions itself on the crossroads of literary experiences and highbrow historical past, and indicates a continuity among the moving view of melancholia in worldwide modernism.
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Additional info for Modernism and melancholia : writing as countermourning
It has often been noted that Freud’s eventual redefinition of mourning-melancholia as a universal psyche-organizing “pathology” emblematic of current history follows in the trace of the religious psychology of Søren Kierkegaard, the thinker with whose description of the modern age I opened this book. While to discuss the commensurability of Kierkegaard’s and Freud’s (and Joyce’s) thought would be well beyond the scope of the present volume,20 one hitherto unattended correspondence merits a spotlight.
While to discuss the commensurability of Kierkegaard’s and Freud’s (and Joyce’s) thought would be well beyond the scope of the present volume,20 one hitherto unattended correspondence merits a spotlight. For both Kierkegaard and Freud, as well as for Joyce, melancholia is at once a paradigmatic condition and the performative of a new, modernist subjecthood. And, as a performative, melancholia is best researched through performance, the writing practices of Kierkegaard, Freud, and Joyce seem to suggest.
Both a melancholic account of history and a reappraisal of artistic sublimation are characteristic of the intellectual climate of the 1930s. Woolf ’s Between the Acts, a novel that came into being while she was reading Freud’s Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (1921) and Civilization and Its Discontents, will assist me in exploring the nature of this affective response. Unlike the topic of mourning, to which Freud never returned after the 1917 essay, melancholia, we have seen, remained a constant in his theoretical and clinical preoccupations.