Fantasies of Love and Death in Life and Art: A Psychoanalytic Study of the Normal and the Pathological

Helen K. Gediman, Author
Helen K. Gediman, Author New York University Press $70 (214p) ISBN 978-0-8147-3068-3
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This provocative, dense, yet accessible psychoanalytic study reveals intimate links between romantic love and existential anxieties concerning loss and death. New York City psychoanalyst Gediman identifies two types of common fantasies in art and life. One, Liebestod fantasies-exemplified by Wagner's operas, the Celtic legend of Tristan and Iseult and medieval troubadours' ballads-involves a wish to merge with the beloved. Liebestod yearnings can lead either to double suicide pacts or to creative mastery and individuation. The other syndrome, resurrection fantasies embodying a desire to preserve and perpetuate the self, may include a wish for reunion with a loved one after death, or for extending sexual pleasure in the afterlife. Gediman investigates resurrection themes in classical legend, Renaissance paintings and sculpture of the Christ story and contemporary clinical case histories. She compellingly argues that painful states of longing and yearning associated with both types of fantasies can inhabit a continuum from the normal to the pathological. Illustrated. (July)
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