Translations of Power: Narcissim and the Unconscious in Epic History

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Elizabeth J. Bellamy here casts new theoretical light on the Renaissance genre of the dynastic epic. Drawing upon Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis to illuminate the emergence of an epic "subjecthood," she focuses on Virgil's Aeneid, Ariosto's Orlando furioso, Tasso's Gerusalemme liberata, and Spenser's Faerie Queene in an attempt to demonstrate how the operations of the unconscious may be interpreted within narrative history.

Bellamy first evaluates the psychoanalytic ...

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Overview

Elizabeth J. Bellamy here casts new theoretical light on the Renaissance genre of the dynastic epic. Drawing upon Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis to illuminate the emergence of an epic "subjecthood," she focuses on Virgil's Aeneid, Ariosto's Orlando furioso, Tasso's Gerusalemme liberata, and Spenser's Faerie Queene in an attempt to demonstrate how the operations of the unconscious may be interpreted within narrative history.

Bellamy first evaluates the psychoanalytic approach to epic as a possible alternative to the new historicism. Turning to the Aeneid, she discusses Freud's "neurotic" relation to Rome as a founding image for a historical unconscious. She then interweaves a genealogy of epic subjecthood with the motif of the translatio imperii, likening the "translations of power" that constitute the translatio imperii to extended meditations on the fate of Troy throughout literary history. According to Bellamy, the epic genre manifests a repeated displacement and repression of its Trojan origins, and the doomed city of Troy represents the locus of epic's own narrative narcissism. Offering provocative analyses of epic temporality and of the function of the death drive in epic narrative, she concludes that dynastic epic may be seen as a structure of narcissistic desire which undermines the capacity of the epic to embody a fully articulated historical subject.

Translations of Power will enliven current debates among scholars and students of Renaissance culture, literary theory, gender studies, and psychoanalytic criticism.

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Editorial Reviews

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Bellamy casts new theoretical light on the Renaissance genre of the dynastic epic. Drawing upon Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis to illuminate the emergence of an epic Virgils' Aeneid, Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, Tasso's Gerusalemme Liberata, and Spenser's Faerie Queene to demonstrate how the operations of the unconscious may be interpreted within narrative history. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801499906
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 4/8/1992
  • Pages: 261

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1 Psychoanalyzing Epic History 1
Psychoanalyssance and the New Historicism 1
The Subject in/of/for Ideology 14
History/Psychoanalysis/Narrative 19
Epic and Its Romance Discontents 22
Translations of Power: Troy and the Narrative of Narcissism 31
2 A Disturbance of Memory in Carthage 38
Rome Neuroses 38
Athens/Rome/Troy: The City Not Seen 46
Memory and Epic Origins 51
Troy and the Return of the Repressed 54
Ekphrasis and the Retroactive Trauma of Memory 60
From Troy to Rome 69
The Translatio Imperii as Metaphoric Repression 72
Back to the Future: Epic Destiny and the Compulsion to Repeat 75
Death Wounds 78
3 Habendi Libido: Ariosto's Armor of Narcissism 82
Habendi Libido: The Subject/Object Is Armor 82
Theft without Return: The Object in/of Narrative 90
"The armour of an alienating identity" 94
Mandricardo and Durindana: Armor and the Revival of Troy 100
Narcissism and Mimesis 107
Armor, Androgyny, and the "Truth" of Gender 112
Furor and Epic Ideology 119
Troia vittrice: Narcissism and the "Truth" of History 123
4 Troia Vittrice: Reviving Troy in the Woods of Jerusalem 131
Oscura memoria: Finding Epic Closure 131
The Epic Sublime 135
Genera ne la selva 145
Androgyny and Narcissism Revisited: Love-as-Death 155
Murder in the Woods 167
Troy and the Second Murder 181
5 The Alienating Structure of Prophecy in "Faerie Lond" 189
The Vel of Faerie 189
Britomart: Dynastic Anxieties 195
Britomart: Gender as Trauma 203
Arthur: Just-Missed Encounters with Epic Destiny 211
Arthur: The Untimeliest Cut of All 221
6 Obsessional Time: Waiting for Death in Epic 234
Festina lente 234
The "Matter" of Life and Death in Epic 239
Waiting for Troy 247
Frequently Cited Secondary Sources 255
Index 257
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