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The Mind-Body Nexus in Beckett’s Writing of Love-Melancholy

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image of Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd'hui

This paper examines the influence of medieval and early modern medicine, in its pre-Cartesian material explanations for psychological phenomena, on Beckett’s works, as evident in his use of Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy. Medieval medical reading on lovesickness is crucial in the history of medicine as it reveals the links between mental states and physiological mechanisms, and the ways in which mental functioning is conditioned by, and thus subject to, the temper of the body. Beckett’s writing of love-melancholy, equipped with knowledge of both medieval and early modern medicine and psychoanalysis, offers fertile ground for reassessing the intricate mind-body nexus and the role of affective alterity in subject-formation.

Affiliations: 1: Senior Lecturer, Drama, University of Auckland, New Zealand


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