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Narcissus and Mourning: Alain de Lille’s Plaint of Nature

  • Nicholas Ealy
Chapter
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

This chapter treats narcissism and selfhood, through the lens of mourning, in Alain de Lille’s Plaint of Nature (c. 1168). Nature, intermediary between God and humanity, laments humanity’s desires, attempting to close through mourning this wound created by sin. Narcissus represents such sin because he desires his image, mistaken for another man, and corrupts language’s univocality. Nature, despite her divine imperative, embodies qualities of the narcissine image, something that jeopardizes her appeals for univocality and exposes her as an ambiguous figure who, as her mourning fails, cannot deny language’s polyvocality. Nature’s ambiguity therefore reveals Narcissus’s, for his desire to fuse to an image exposes his sin while reflecting the human soul’s desire for the divine, in turn reflecting the love God has for himself.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas Ealy
    • 1
  1. 1.University of HartfordWest HartfordUSA

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