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Modernism and MelancholiaWriting as Countermourning$
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Sanja Bahun

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199977956

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199977956.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 18 September 2021



The Rise of Countermourning

(p.15) 1 Modernism
Modernism and Melancholia

Sanja Bahun

Oxford University Press

Drawing on insights from multiple disciplines, the chapter identifies the discursive prominence of melancholia in a wide range of public settings between 1850 and 1950, and the self-conscious employment of the “melancholic symptom” in art and literature of the period. It suggests a reassessment of the concepts of mourning and melancholia and of the ways in which they are used in literary criticism. This reconceptualization accords with the “modernist” psychoanalysts’ own reflections of melancholia/mourning, and takes into account specific social dynamics of the period such as the waning of mourning rites. Identifying in modernist literature an impulse to “countermourn”, the chapter furthermore contrasts the modernist use of the melancholic symptom to all previous “aesthetic melancholias.” The interaction of the contemporaneous theories of melancholia and the narrative strategies in modernist fiction is explored in detail, and with reference to a wide range of novels.

Keywords:   history, mourning and countermourning, melancholia, sigmund freud, character, chronotope, language

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