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Sacrifice Your Love: Psychoanalysis, Historicism, Chaucer

L. O. Aranye Fradenburg
Volume: 31
Copyright Date: 2002
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    Sacrifice Your Love
    Book Description:

    Sacrifice Your Love develops the idea that sacrifice is a mode of enjoyment—that our willingness to sacrifice our desire is actually a way of pursuing it. Fradenburg considers the implications of this idea for various problems important in medieval studies today and beyond. Medieval Cultures Series, volume 31

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9191-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. INTRODUCTION: Sacrifice in Theory
    (pp. 1-42)

    The most important single assumption of this book is that what we think we ought to do—even the very idea that we ought to do certain things—is always intimately related to our desire. This linkage between desire and ethics is, in turn, at the center of my thinking about sacrifice. My reading of sacrifice as a form and activity of enjoyment has been inspired by the psychoanalytic principle that it is desire that drives human subjectivity, both group and individual. As Lacan puts it, “the genesis of the moral dimension in Freud’s theoretical elaboration is located nowhere else...

    (pp. 43-78)

    Gerald of Wales, famously put off by Geoffrey of Monmouth’sHistory of the Kings of Britain, tells the story of a prophet named Meilyr, who “was immediately aware” if “anyone told a lie in his presence,” because “he saw a demon dancing and exulting on the liar’s tongue.” He could also put his finger on the “offending passage” of any book that contained inaccuracies or deceptions.

    When he was harassed beyond endurance by. . . unclean spirits, St. John’s Gospel was placed on his lap, and then they all vanished immediately, flying away like so many birds. If the Gospel...

    (pp. 79-112)

    Understanding Chaucer’s poetics depends on understanding his edgy experiments in tragedy—The Monk’s TaleandTroilus and Criseyde, but also poems with particularly rich links to these experiments and their intertexts, such asThe Book of the DuchessandThe Legend of Good Women.¹ Particularly since the early nineteenth century, critics have tended to distinguish these poems fromThe Canterbury Tales, a collection that has often seemed more “social,” more “various,” more “lively,” and exemplary—indeed, constitutive—of the tradition of “English” writing. Although I believe that certain features of Chaucer’s poetics emerge with especially painful clarity in such poems...

  6. 3 The Ninety-six Tears of Chaucer’s Monk
    (pp. 113-154)

    The Book of the Duchessworks hard to construct a rich interior that will give depth to the white-walled surface of the nascentfinamen’s subjectivity and his courtly world. The poem also works to overcome the figure of dead exteriority with which it begins: a narrator so lost as to have no inner life, “felynge in nothyng” (11).¹ But traces of insentience reappear throughout the poem, most startlingly at its end, in its moments of “anticlimax”: “She ys ded!” (1309), “hit ys doon” (1334). The poem’s critics have been prone to ask, “Is that all?”² Although critics have appreciated how...

  7. 4 Sacrificial Desire in Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale
    (pp. 155-175)

    The discourses of charity that proliferated in medieval culture sought to determine what it meant to be “poor in spirit” and gave to the powerful a remarkable ally and model in the figure of the poor. The practice and casuistry of charity offered multiple points of crossover between poverty and power—between, as Nietzsche puts it, “those who cannot pay to escape” and those determined not to.¹ The “super-law” of grace; the hypereconomy of sacrifice that seeks, as in mourning, to keep that which it gives up; the absurd and infinite love of a God who plays “scapegoat for his...

  8. 5 Loving Thy Neighbor: THE LEGEND OF GOOD WOMEN
    (pp. 176-198)

    InA Preface to Chaucer, D. W. Robertson Jr. cites Saint Augustine’s “classic Christian” definition of “the two loves,” charity and concupiscence: charity is “the motion of the soul toward the enjoyment of God for His own sake, and the enjoyment of one’s self and of one’s neighbor for the sake of God”; cupidity “is a motion of the soul toward the enjoyment of one’s self, one’s neighbor, or any corporal thing for the sake of something other than God.”¹ As is well known to students of medieval literature, Robertson’s inference that “charity is the basic lesson of Christianity” becomes...

    (pp. 199-238)

    Enjoyment exceeds the subject’s awareness of desire and pleasure. While enjoyment shares some of the meanings of “intent” (entente, in Chaucer), that is, “will,” “desire,” the focus ofententeis on specific mental acts of focusing, attending, purposing. Whereententeconcentrates the mind, narrows its focus, centers it on specific narrative possibilities, enjoyment participates ineluctably in the exteriorities of groups, of history and the signifying processes that work their waythroughsubjects. But enjoyment does not just disseminate; it also concentrates. Desire depends on intensifications as well as multiplications of sentience. Moreover, intending is closely linked to wishing. Dissemination and...

  10. EPILOGUE. Some Thoughts on the Humanities: enjoying the middle ages
    (pp. 239-252)

    A number of the academics I have talked to about the movieBabelay claim to it, but usually in a roundabout way; they feel that the movie revives something old that was also revived during their own period of study. Some think it is a pastoral, others a georgic. For me,Babeechoes the tropes of antiutilitarian medievalism in the nineteenth century.¹Babecelebrates love between master and servant (these days, animals have to stand in for the peasants), and rural life as the scene in which such love might be rediscovered. It expresses distaste for technology, presenting the...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 253-298)
  12. Index
    (pp. 299-328)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 329-333)