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Saturnine Constellations: Melancholy In Literary History And In The Works Of Baudelaire And Benjamin, Kevin Godbout
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Aristotle famously asked the question: why are extraordinary people so often melancholics? “Problem XXX,” written by Aristotle or one of his disciples, speculates that black bile, the humour once believed to cause melancholy, can promote a form of genius, a profound intellectual power. Walter Benjamin and Charles Baudelaire are two writers for whom this theory was true: though they suffered from gloominess and despondency, they also recognized that in the interior of sadness, and even madness, is a kernel of aesthetic, artistic, and philosophical truth. Melencolia illa heroica – whose theory was authoritatively formulated by Ficino, taking after Aristotle’s Problems ...