The book concerns the reception of the Narcissus myth in Western Culture, ranging in time from the Middle Ages and the early modern period to the present day. Drawing on Ovid’s and Pausanias’ versions of myth, Dr Agnieszka Gotchold distinguishes the mirror, vanitas and incest motifs to include in her comparative and interdisciplinary analyses works of literature, fine arts, as well as music. The book is all the more relevant for us today as, following the thesis of an American social critic, we live in “the epoch of narcissism.” […] What I find particularly inspiring is a comprehensive application of Sigmund Freud’s and Jacques Lacan’s theories of desire and their anchoring in Northrop Frye’s theory of myth and his distinction between the myth of concern and that of freedom. It is an unquestionably excellent work which superbly demonstrates the author’s extraordinary scientific mastery. Due to her innovative transdisciplinary approach, the book is certain to have an influence on both the humanities and psychoanalysis.
Prof. Dr. phil. Dr. med. Hermann Lang, the Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg
Much more than a collection of themes and motifs, the book presents a thorough history of literature and mentalities seen from a broader perspective. The author focuses on a wide variety of texts from medieval and early modern literatures to Thomas Mann and Jonathan Littell. Her corpus of texts includes works that arise from the courtly love tradition, such as the poems of Bernart de Ventadorn and Heinrich von Morungen, Petrarca’s sonnet cycles, Roman de la rose by Guillaume de Lorris and a novella by Marguerite de Navarre, as well as the writings of Hildegard von Bingen, Mechthild von Magdeburg and Hadewijch van Antwerpen, which are taken as models for the mystics’ treatment of narcissistic personality traits. This extraordinary range of texts and the expertise with which the author deals with diverse and deeply specialised sectors of European literary studies deserve recognition per se. […] We are dealing here with a book which is extremely interesting and knowledgeable from a scientific point of view. Dr Agnieszka Gotchold has succeeded in presenting and deciphering a phenomenon in all its aspects, placing it within a culture-theoretical framework.
Prof. Dr. Jürgen Wertheimer, the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen
ISBN 979–10–95627–19–7 (La Rama)
Format B5, s. 268