The Melancholy Muse: Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Early Medicine

Duquesne University Press, 1995 - 185 Seiten
Melancholy is so much part of human experience that it is no surprise that, in its clinical dimension, it has been written about by physicians for hundreds of years, from antiquity into the twentieth century. Heffernan's study correlates views of melancholy appearing in ancient, medieval, and Renaissance medical treatises with poetic treatments of melancholy drawn from the early and later stages of the careers of Chaucer and Shakespeare. As this study shows, these two poets had an enduring interest in this subject, and both also demonstrated considerable medical knowledge for that time. The Melancholy Muse works toward new formulations and syntheses of two largely isolated areas: medical theory and literary criticism. It thereby becomes a study both in medico-literary relations and in the history of ideas. Heffernan's useful approach to literature concentrates on Chaucer and Shakespeare, whose works are rich in the expression of melancholy.

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