Love's descent into melancholy.

Saundra Tara Weiss, City University of New York, Graduate Center

Abstract

This dissertation studied the theme of love, desire, loss, and melancholy in four genres: poetry, novella, psychoanalytic text, drama represented respectively by Pablo Neruda's Song of Despair, Benito Perez Galdos' Tristana, Kate Chopin's The Awakening, Freud's Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria (1905), and Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie. The dissertation looked at the ways in which love and desire are represented in each of the texts. It also looked at the ways in which the loving subject (e.g., poet and protagonist) descends into melancholy through the narrative movement of the text.;The dissertation examined the contradiction between love and desire as at once ephemeral (in the living/dying moment) and eternal (in the text reflecting the moment), as a way of understanding how inexorably bound the amatory discourse is to loss and melancholy. Most of all, the dissertation asserts that the nature of love and desire as reflected in amatory discourse (the latter being a mere substitute for the "real")---propels us toward the limits of interpretation and memory of the forever fleeting extant present---and therefore creates the inevitability of loss/melancholy. Yet it is from loss/melancholy that emerges the perennial possibility of imaginative symbolic transformation. As the language of amatory discourse inevitably filters our perceptions of the present, it paradoxically compels us to sustain our desire for closure, certitude, and completeness, which are sadly forever elusive.