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Askew, M.W. (1965). Courtly Love: Neurosis as Institution. Psychoanal. Rev., 52A(1):19-29.

(1965). Psychoanalytic Review, 52A(1):19-29

Courtly Love: Neurosis as Institution

Melvin W. Askew, Ph.D.


Since the late nineteenth century and the advent of some of Freud's early literary comments, psycho-literary studies dealing with the relationships between neurosis and various aspects of literature have been abundant even if, at times, inept. For instance, almost the whole of the surrealist manifesto is an elaboration of the relationship between the psychologic dream-work and the literary dream-work. Also, much has been written and said about the relationships between neurosis and literary genius, between the creation of fiction and the control of subliminal neurotic impulses, between the distortion of wholesome life patterns by neurosis and the manipulation and distortion of life by the creative imagination in art and literature. But in all these investigations passing notice has scarcely been given to one of the most monumentally neurotic structures in all literature, namely Courtly Love and the system of conventions in which it is embodied and by which it is expressed.

This is not to say, however, that Courtly Love has escaped unnoticed, for the extensive treatment given it in de Rougemont's Love in the Western World is colorful and enjoyable evidence to the contrary. Nor is it to say that the courtly love conventions have fallen into disrepute in literature.

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