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Welcome sign in sign up. It is now twenty-five years since the first edition of Love in the Western World appeared. Most of the essays in Dramatic Personages precede it; the ones in Love Declared are quite recent.
Literary figures interest De Rougemont less for their ideas than for the inner tensions revealed by the way in which they express ideas.
In these tensions he hopes to find the identity of a person. This is the author as neither thinker nor particular individual, but somehow the two determining one another. In Love in the Western World the approach remains constant, but its scope is tremendously enlarged.
For him Eros is adulterous passion, subversive to marriage as well as orthodoxy, in love with love itself rather than the beloved, seeking an infinite joy that transcends human forms, and so forever suicidal, sad, unsatisfied.
By Agape he means Christian love between human beings as well as man and God. While Eros is a love of death, Agape establishes a living communion. The concept of Agape originates with the New Testament.
Eros, De Rougemont traces to the medieval legend of Tristan and Iseult , which he relates to Christian heresies deriving from Manichaeanism. Love Declared resumes the argument with greater sophistication. I propose a mythanalysis , which can be applied not only to persons but to the characters of art, and to certain formulations of life; the immediate objective of such a method being to elucidate the motives of our choices and their too frequently unconscious implications, spiritual as well as social.
The book ends with a comparison of Eastern and Western ideas about the self which enables De Rougemont to reaffirm his commitment to Christian Agape. What are we to say of this triptych? Its design so simple, its panorama so vast, its religious conviction so powerful, will it not strike us as deep and meaningful? Possibly so. And yet, is it…. This is exclusive content for subscribers only. Choose a Print, Digital, or All Access subscription.
If you are already a subscriber, please be sure you are logged in to your nybooks. Facebook Twitter RSS. Dramatic personages by Denis de Rougemont, translated by Richard Howard.
Love in the Western World
Few scholars have been preoccupied by mimesis, and they who have taken an interest in mimesis, have mainly regarded it as representation. In that respect Girard's theory looks astonishingly new and innovative. There have been remarkably few theologians, religious scholars, philosophers, literary critics and psychologists indulged in mimesis and desire. In an academic context, therefore, Girardian theory seems relatively autonomous. The paradox is, however, that Girard by and large dismisses originality and autonomy, while his theory is profoundly original. Especially when viewing mimesis, not only as representation, but also as a desire, there are aspects in Girard's use of the concept, which must be regarded as truly new. But it is, however, important to have in mind that mimetic processes have always been taken into consideration, not only in art, religion and literature, but also in politics and military tactics.
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