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Black Sun: Depression and Melancholia (European Perspectives) [Hardcover]

J Kristeva
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

30 Sep 1989 0231067062 978-0231067065
In Black Sun, Julia Kristeva addresses the subject of melancholia, examining this phenomenon in the context of art, literature, philosophy, the history of religion and culture, as well as psychoanalysis. She describes the depressive as one who perceives the sense of self as a crucial pursuit and a nearly unattainable goal and explains how the love of a lost identity of attachment lies at the very core of depression's dark heart. In her discussion she analyzes Holbein's controversial 1522 painting "The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb," and has revealing comments on the works of Marguerite Duras, Dostoyevsky and Nerval. Black Sun takes the view that depression is a discourse with a language to be learned, rather than strictly a pathology to be treated.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (30 Sep 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231067062
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231067065
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.2 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,162,402 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Moving and Provocative. The New York Times An absorbing meditation on depression and melancholia, moving from essays in psychoanalytic theory based on the 'symptomatology' of Ms. Kristeva's patients to rather more formal studies of depression in Holbein the Younger, Nerval, Dostoyevsky, and Marguerite Duras... A persuasive theory of depression that is both moving and provocative. The New York Times When Julia Kristeva's new book, 'Black Sun,' begins seductively, with an elegant reminder of that old black mood we know so well, she raises hopes that the darker moments of depression will be illuminated... Kristeva's descriptions of the artistic working through of melancholica are compelling and theoretically sound. Voice Literary Supplement --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Julia Kristeva is a professor of linguistics at the Universite de Paris VII. She is the author of many highly respected books (most published in English by Columbia University Press) and a practicing psychoanalyst. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
For those who are racked by melancholia, writing about it would have meaning only if writing sprang out of that very melancholia. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that explains how depression feels 26 Oct 2010
This is definitely no self-help book but from my limited understanding of it (it's a complicated academic text that might only be readable if you've had some grounding in psychoanalytic language, and it referred to works only a few of which interested me), it directly helped me overcome clinical depression. Kristeva's language joined me in the voluptuous netherworld of depressive thought and helped me understand why I kept returning to that unproductive place. I came to see how 'depressives are prisoners of affect', 'affect is their thing'; that the 'jouissance' of spirit that ought to be a spice of life can also be enjoyed inwardly, passively, inertly, and revelled in; that the experience of depression is really a wordless one, where the lack of symbols, the meeting of attraction and repulsion and the lustful, inchoate mix of it all can feel safe, while one is exiled from a sense of safety. The strange purity of this, its inviolability, holds one in a kind of narcissistic thrall. It helped me see how much depression had me seeking a self that only actually began to form when it was exercised in the world and the company of others, so that I was stuck in a self-referential void. As pseud as all this might sound, reading Black Sun worked better for me than Prozac or CBT, and some fifteen years down the line I remain indebted to its lessons.
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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An energetic and exhaustive study of the blues. 18 Nov 1997
By Eileen G. - Published on
In much the same way that Philippe Aries took the subject of childhood and illuminated it for all time in "Centuries of Childhood," fellow French writer (although Bulgarian-born) and Lacanian psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva examines depression and melancholia. She comes at it from various angles and filters: fine arts, literature, history, philosophy, religion, and of course psychology. She posits psychoanalysis as a (really THE) 'counterdepressant' -- convincingly. This is great highbrow stuff: chapters with titles like"Beauty, the Depressive's Other Realm," and "Life and Death of Speech." Death, suicide, the inevitable gloom resulting from loss of maternal, later erotic, love; all are insightfully discussed -- even rather tenderly. If you're depressed BLACK SUN won't make you more so -- and if you're feeling okay to begin with, it's a terrific scholarly study.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Billy Us 11 May 2003
By Alvaro Lewis - Published on
Kristeva's <Black Sun> is definitely worth a read. While staking a claim for the salubrious effects of psychoanalysis, the author freshly details art's engagement with melancholy and depression. The first chapter or two will make rough going for the reader who is not amused by the lexicon of psychoanalysis. But even readers with a literary intolerance of that sort will find the third chapter on feminine depression sensitively written and thoughtfully invested with human presence. The chapters on art and artists with melancholia make generally excellent reading. The most brief of the chapters, "Beauty: The Depressive Other's Realm," provides a soaring inauguration of the author's poetic and psychoanalytic approaches to the madness and melancholia among Durer, Nerval, Dostoevsky, and Duras. The chapter on Duras might not bear a discussion of an author familiar to American readers but it is worth reading because it alone of the chapters explicity raises questions concerning politics, expectations, madness and depression. The author investigates the sites she has chosen with great sensitivity and radiant intellect. Scattered clouds will be apparent to those who find psychoanalysis an unsatisfying or capricious methodology of investigation.
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A different approach to depression. A "must read." 18 Oct 2000
By Mark Hammond - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a different approach to depression. Too often, our focus has been on the DSM-IV approach, or to the treatment of depression using selective seratonin reuptake inhibitors such as Prozac and Paxil. Very rarely does somebody, let alone a respected psychoanalyst, attempt to explain what it actually *feels* like to experience major depression. This is a writing that gives meaning to depression, and I feel that it helps people and their families understand the experience of depression.
The process of all modalities of psychotherapy involves communication, a dialogue between the therapist and the client. This process draws the client out and is an essential factor in the care of the client. Kristeva emphasizes the "antidepressant qualities of psychoanalysis." While acknowledging the utility of antidepressants in psychotherapy, the function of the linguistic component seeks to emphasize the meaning of the "inconsolable loss" experienced by the depressed patient. To symbolically illustrate the sensation of depression, Kristeva uses great sensativity in drawing on the poetry of Gerard de Nerval, the novels of Doestoyevsky, and Hans Holbein's picture "Dead Christ."
"Dark Sun" had meaning to me because of its emphasis on the *individual* and how he or she feels. We must always emphasize the dignity of the individual in dealing with the depressed.
5.0 out of 5 stars She is brilliant 26 July 2014
By marcus - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
And she writes beautifully about depression and artists. Not an easy book but an important one. Read it for enlightenment not entertainment.
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