The Tears of Narcissus: Melancholia and Masculinity in Early Modern Writing

This work offers new readings of early modern texts, arguing that contemporary psychoanalytic theory written in light of the work of Kristeva and Lacan affords a precise understanding of the connection between melancholia, narcissism, sexual difference, and literary form in works by Tasso, Marvell, Shakespeare, and Webster. Attending to the many ways that melancholia and narcissism are interwoven - and to the pressure that such an entanglement exerts on early modern literary representations of the self - this book asks: why was 'melancholia' frequently registered as a literary and rhetorical problem, not a psychological one? It demonstrates that a sense of irreparable sadness is inextricably bound up with each text's implicit or explicit commentary on its own poetic and rhetorical strategies. This book displays the complex, and not always intuitive, relationship between subjectivity, eros, and literary form.