On the melancholic imaginary

Winter 1987

Kristeva looks at the psychoanalytic concept of melancholia, in relation to the love/hate dialectic as expressed in personal relationships, and via the writings of Freud and Klein. She takes as case studies a sonnet by Gerard de Nerval and Dostoevsky’s novel The Devils. Dostoevsky’s approach to melancholia is addressed through his epileptic characters, since writers from Aristotle onwards have associated the two conditions, and The Devils is read for its parallels with the Biblical Book of Job in terms of the representation of suffering. Finally, Kristeva considers advances in the understanding of brain chemistry and what impact these might have on such psychoanalytic concepts.

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