The Melancholy Assemblage
Affect and Epistemology in the English Renaissance
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Fordham University Press
Title Page, Copyright
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Ac know ledg ments
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The fi rst assemblage encountered in this book is distinctly sanguine in temperament—a modular network of students, colleagues, mentors, allies, editors, family members, band mates, and friends. Many institutions have hosted me while I assembled this work: the University of California at Berkeley; the Huntington Library; the Folger Library; St. John’s College, ...
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The topic of melancholy courts a suitable exhaustion at the present mo-ment. Faced with the prospect of a sequence of readings of early modern repre sen ta tions of this all- too- familiar emotional stance, one might well wonder whether anything could have gone unnoticed about this par tic u-lar quintessence of scholarly dust. If, to take up the Ashbery poem’s sharp ...
1. From Dürer’s Angel to Harlow’s Monkey
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Melancholy arises through the composition and recomposition of bodies: substances fl owing, heating, and cooling within the somatic interior, limbs and extremities falling into attitudes or taking up postures, skin surfaces growing taut or slack, tiny expressive muscle systems arranging them-selves into legible states of display. Over time and across culture, the ...
2. Three Hundred Years Out of Fashion
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Love’s Labour’s Lost has irritated playgoers for centuries. Coming to grips with this slippery, curious play in his Remarks on the Plays of Shakespear (1710), Charles Gildon fi rst pulls, then throws, his punch: “[ . . . ] [S]ince it is one of the worst of Shakespear’s Plays, nay I think I may say the very worst, I cannot but think that it is his fi rst, notwithstanding those Argu-...
3. Let Me Have Judgment, and the Jew His Will
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Foreclosing knowledge from its fi rst line, The Merchant of Venice may be-gin but it does not quite open. We start out startled, at impasse, greeted by For Antonio, melancholy is not only an illness—it is a discourse, a fi eld of study, and one whose daunting curriculum (etiology, source, transmis-sion, substance, and origin) mocks his exhaustion. Presented with this ...
4. That Within Which Passes Show
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In a farcical piece of stage business with a fl ute, Hamlet issues a famous rebuke to the courtier spies Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that applies equally to the spectators, readers, and critics who attempt to cash out the HAMLET: Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me! would pluck out the heart of my mystery, you would sound me from ...
5. Rhapsodies of Rags
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Imagine a book. This book fi xates upon a par tic u lar cultural phenome-non, one not entirely marginal but far from obvious as a suitable subject for its imposing size. The book drifts from its stated occasion, relentlessly, and uses the explanation of its ostensibly modest topic to digress at great length across the entirety of the surrounding world, pursued to its stop-...
6. My Self, My Sepulcher
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Concluding our sequence of portraits in black, it must be said that Samson makes an unlikely candidate for melancholy. If we take up Robert Burton’s portable defi nition of this condition as “feare, and sadnesse without any ap-parant occasion,” then the application of this modish misfortune of early modernity to the Biblical hero from the Book of Judges seems, literally, woe-...
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Melancholy never stops, but this book must. Before it does, I wish to both recapitulate and extend my argument, placing a fi nal pressure upon the question of melancholy as “matter,” in order to think about how and why melancholy still matters, and where it continues to circulate, today. At the risk of droning melancholically on, I hope to do four things: First, I hope ...
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Plate 1. Isaac Oliver, Edward Herbert, First Baron Herbert of Cherbury, 1610– 14. (Private Plate 2. Nicholas Hilliard, George Cliff ord, Third Earl of Cumberland, 1585– 89. Plate 3. Nicholas Hilliard, The Young Man among Roses, 1587. (V&A Images, Plate 4. Isaac Oliver, Young Man Reclining Against a Tree, 1590– 95. (The Royal ...
Page Count: 328
Illustrations: 4 4/c, 6 b/w
Publication Year: 2013