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The essays in "Modernism and Mourning" examine the "work of mourning" in modernist literature, or more precisely, its propensity for "resisting" this "work." Drawing from recent developments in the theory and cultural history of mourning, its contributors explore the various ways in which modernist writers repudiate Freud's famous injunction to mourners to "work through" their grief, endorsing instead a resistant, or melancholic mourning that shapes both their themes and their radical experiments with form. The emerging picture of the pervasive influence of melancholic mourning in modernist literature casts new light on longstanding critical arguments, especially those about the politics of modernism. It also makes clear the pertinence of this literature to the present day, in which the catastrophic losses of 9/11, of retaliatory war, of racially motivated genocide, of the AIDS epidemic, have made the "work of mourning" a subject of widespread interest and debate. Patricia Rae is Head of the Department of English at Queen's University.
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