Remarking upon "Mourning and Melancholia," Giorgio Agamben notes that Freud writes with "a certain discomfort" of melancholia "'that a loss has indeed occurred, without it being known what has been lost.'" Agamben's elaboration of how a fictive introjection of absence allows melancholy to "open . . . a space for the existence of the unreal" leads to a psychodynamic picture that fuses the mortuary with the erotic. I argue that this psychodynamic observation offers a means for understanding Emily Dickinson's highly erotized, death-driven work. The Dickinsonian "I" gains poetic power to the extent that she simultaneously "buries" the absent other and claims amorous possession as he departs. Through close syntactic and rhetorical readings of canonical poems, I demonstrate that Agamben's psychosexual speculations on melancholia can provide a conceptual frame for a psychoanalytically informed interpretation of this enigmatic, impassioned poet's work.


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pp. 369-381
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