Narcissus and Melancholy: René d’Anjou’s Book of the Love-Smitten Heart

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


This chapter treats narcissism and selfhood, through the lens of melancholy, in René d’Anjou’s Book of the Love-Smitten Heart (c. 1457). Wounded by Love’s arrow upon seeing his beloved, René remains melancholic, incapable of satisfying his longing. Melancholy works to keep this wound open, creating a space where René can fixate upon his “loss” as fulfillment seems attainable. This chapter examines through text and illuminations the scenes where René’s heart (1) is removed by Love, (2) encounters the Fountain of Fortune, a spring of melancholic bile that allows him to fixate upon his beloved’s image, and (3) discovers he must submit to Love before the Diamond Mirror, a double of Narcissus’s fountain, realizing his selfhood is forever wounded by frustrated desires which, nonetheless, appear achievable.


  1. Agamben, Giorgio. 1993. Stanzas: Word and Phantasm in Western Culture. Trans. Ronald L. Martinez. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minneapolis Press.Google Scholar
  2. Arrouye, Jean. 1991. Le Cœur et son paysage. In Le “Cuer” au moyen âge: réalité et sénéfiance, ed. Margaret Bertrand, 27–42. Aix-en-Provence: Université de Provence.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ealy, Nicholas. 2012. The Poet at the Mirror: René d’Anjou and Authorial Doubling in theLivre du Coeur d’Amour épris.Fifteenth-Century Studies 37, 17–46. Rochester: Camden House.Google Scholar
  4. ———. 2017. “Tu es déjà rentré?”: Trauma, Narcissism and Melancholy in François Ozon’s Sous le sable (2001). Studies in French Cinema 17 (3): 217–235.Google Scholar
  5. Freud, Sigmund. 1964. Mourning and Melancholia. In The Standard Edition of the Complete Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 14. Trans. and Ed. James Strachey, 243–258. London: Hogarth.Google Scholar
  6. ———. 1994. Trauer und Melancholie. In Psychologie des Unbewuβten 3, ed. Alexander Mitscherlich, 193–212. Frankfurt: S. Fischer.Google Scholar
  7. Garnier, François. 1983. Le Langage de l’image au moyen âge: signification et symbolique. Paris: Léopard d’or.Google Scholar
  8. Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun. 1992. Le Roman de la Rose. Ed. Armand Strubel. Paris: Librairie Générale Française.Google Scholar
  9. Hult, David. 1986. Self-Fulfilling Prophecies: Readership and Authority in the First “Roman de la Rose”. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Knoespel, Kenneth J. 1985. Narcissus and the Invention of Personal History. New York: Garland.Google Scholar
  11. Labbie, Erin Felicia. 2006. Lacan’s Medievalism. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  12. Le Lapidaire en prose. 1882. In Les lapidaires français du moyen âge des XII e , XIII e et XIV e siècles. Ed. Léopold Pannier, 286–297. Paris: F. Vieweg.Google Scholar
  13. Nouvet, Claire. 2000. A Reversing Mirror: Guillaume de Lorris’ Romance of the Rose. In Translatio Studii: Essays by His Students in Honor of Karl D. Uitti for His Sixty-Fifth Birthday, ed. Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski et al., 189–205. Amsterdam: Rodopoi.Google Scholar
  14. Pliny. 1962. Pliny: Natural History X (Books 36–37). Ed. and Trans. D.E. Einchholz. Cambridge, MA: Loeb Classical Library.Google Scholar
  15. Polizzi, Gilles. 1988. “Sens plastique”: Le Spectacle des merveilles dans le Livre du cuer d’amours espris. In De l’étranger à l’étrange ou la “conjointure” de la merveille, ed. Marguerite Rossi and Paul Bancourt, 395–430. Aix-en-Provence: Université de Provence.Google Scholar
  16. René d’Anjou. 2003. Le Livre du Coeur d’Amour épris. Ed. Florence Bouchet. Paris: Librairie Générale Française.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

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

Personalised recommendations