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Reviews179 were quite unknown to me at first hand, and I appreciated introductions to Calderón de la Barca, Max Jacob, and Mario Luzi, in particular the last with his indebtedness to Bergson and TeUhard. Yet I am left wondering who the reader is who would require preliminary introductions to some and could manage advanced essays on others. Occasionally the editors do slip in clues about their prejudices. Thus, Robert Royal, in his essay on Péguy, suggests that "one of the most deep-seated critical prejudices in the twentieth century is that religion is bad for literature" (p. 160). I am not convinced of the truth of that claim—though pardy true, the very opposite might be a more sustainable position. What is needed is more editorial energy. This could be a very important collection, but it simply falls apart, and fails to engage with the real issues of the ludic as a central element in the reworking of theological thinking today, not least through literary exercises. The profoundly liturgical (and spiritual) dimension of that reworking is recognized in Marion and in the last essay by Louis Dupré, "Ritual: The Divine Play of Time." Dupré's excellent comments on temporality and drama as ritual are hardly sustained by any previous close readings and provide no real conclusion to the book. And his final sentence is revealing—suggesting that we live in an age suspicious of religion and religious language. What is needed is a much clearer theoretical sense of the postmodern so profoundly recognized by Jean-Luc Marion, and its deep theological implications, not least in its sense of play in text and literature. In his endorsement of the book, Gerald Gillespie acknowledges the "brilliant synthesizing" by Nemoianu and Dupré in their essays. This is just what is lacking in a book which contains individual papers of great insight and literary scholarship. University of GlasgowDavid Jasper The Gendering of Melancholia: Feminism, Psychoanalysis, and the Symbolics of Loss in Renaissance Literature, by Juliana Schiesari; xii & 267 pp. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992, $36.95 cloth, $14.95 paper. Schiesari contends that "melancholia is not simply a pathological condition of either medical or psychological interest, but a historically specific discursive practice that differentiates along gender lines . . . between those 'losses' that are considered significant and those that are not" (p. 186). Citing Hamlet as a favorite traditional figure of melancholy, she suggests that the question is not "To be, or not to be," but who is meaningfully empowered to ask and rewarded 180Philosophy and Literature for doing so (p. 63). That there are laurels to be received by male melancholiacs is the substance of much of Schiesari's work. It is an argument she makes most convincingly in her analysis of Freud's "Mourning and Melancholia," Ficino's De amore and De vita, and Tasso's Gerusalemme liberata. In such works, male melancholy is seen as a source of genius, brought about, in part, by the melancholic 's higher moral character and his special relationship with the transcendent . His status is achieved, however, by a devaluation of mourning, traditionally associated with the feminine and the vulgos: ". . . the 'significant' losses ofthe melancholic are themselves appropriated from what, from his standpoint, can only be called 'insignificant others'" (p. 186). Schiesari argues that women's melancholia, on the other hand, is historically situated as demonic at worst, incoherent at best. The modern version of melancholia , depression, is given no attributes of transcendent value because it is predominandy associated with women. Against this gender-differentiating tradition , Schiesari cites the work of Hildegard of Bingen, whose alternative vision of melancholy was that it was a debilitating illness shared equally by men and women. Schiesari finds, in the works of Gaspara Stampa and Isabella di Morra, attempts to articulate female melancholia, in opposition to an overwhelming Petrarchan influence which objectified women while effectively silencing them. She is critical, however, of contemporary feminists Irigaray and Kristeva for the absence she finds in their works of a constructive response to female melancholia , particularly in Kristeva's assertion that women must "kill off the mother" (p. 81): ". . . the reactivation of the gendered categories of melancholia in conjunction with Kristeva's own particular...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 179-180
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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