"Eros in Mourning" begins with a reading of the "Iliad" that shows how Homer, not yet influenced by the ideology of transcendence, analyzes the structure of unassuageable mourning in a way that is as up-to-date as the latest poststructuralism. Then, in readings of Dante, "Hamlet, La Princess de ClA]ves, " "Heart of Darkness," and Lacan, Staten depicts the "thanato-erotic" hysteria that is set off by the specter of the dead and decomposing body that is also the body of sexual love and which, in the "transcendentalizing" tradition, is more female than male. Yet, St. John, certain troubadours, and Milton offer glimpses of a more affirmative relation to "eros in mourning."
At the end of Henry Staten's breathtaking Eros in Mourning we are left to stare blindly into the awesome face of that which is said to transfix the canonical avatars of Western man from the grieving hero Akhilleus (Achilles) in Homer's Iliad to the death-driven psychoanalyst in The Seminar of Jacques Lacan... A splendid series of readings. -- Steven Z. Levine Bryn Mawr Classical Review Staten is at his most astonishing when he illustrates how texts that on the manifest level appear to advocate an idealizing preservation of the self, on a latent one advocate a radical embrace of mortality and an absolute expenditure of the self. -- Elisabeth Bronfen Modern Language Review Eros in Mourning offers the groundwork for a new poetics, which we can confidently call a poetics of mourning. Cultural Critique