Love is a complex and mysterious experience that continues to generate questions because it has the capacity to enchant and to destroy, to uplift and to devastate. It can be envisaged as a spiritual force or a disease directly affecting the individual and causing him harm. This volume investigates love-sickness from antiquity to contemporaneity. It begins with Alcibiades’s comparison of Socrates with an agalma, proceeds with Dante’s conception of spiritual love and Burton’s anatomy of melancholy, before contemplating literary and real-life cases of love-sickness in the 20th century, such as Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath’s. It concludes on the analysis of Alice Munro’s story “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” and its filmic adaptation by Sarah Polley. Thus, it straddles time and space, articulating aesthetics, ethics and therapeutics, to propose a diachronic panorama of love-sickness as deployed in poetry, fiction and film, through emblematic examples. It aims to cast a simultaneous empathetic and analytical gaze on our common vulnerability and it is underpinned by the tenet that human creativity and imagination are the ultimate remedies, because they carry unique cathartic and sublimatory powers.
Héliane Ventura is Professor of Canadian and Contemporary Literatures in English at the University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès. Her research is focused on the rewriting of the canon and the resurgence of myths in contemporary women fiction, with special emphasis on Alice Munro’s oeuvre.