Death, Desire and Loss in Western Culture by Jonathan Dollimore

Jonathan Dollimore ( tackles a huge theme here. It is the tangled topics of death, desire and loss in Western culture. His aim is to investigate the central paradox that desire is the bedfellow, so to speak, of loss and death. As he puts it ‘what connects death with desire is mutability–the sense that all being is governed by a ceaseless process of change inseparable from an inconsolable sense of loss somehow always in excess of the loss of anything in particular”. Ranging the full distance from the Greeks to postmodernism, Dollimore offers readings of Anaximander, Plato, Shakespeare, Donne, Hegel, Heidegger, Sartre, Freud among others. This is an academic tour de force.

Accompany this with a listen to the R4 ‘In Our Time’ 45 minute podcast on the subject of death in Western intellectual history. Available at the page  The discussion features Jonathan Dollimore, Professor of English, York University; Thomas Lynch, poet, essayist, funeral director and author of The Undertaking – Life Studies from the Dismal Trade; Marilyn Butler, Professor of English Literature and Rector of Exeter College, Oxford.

384 pages in Routledge paperback edition.

ISBN 978-0415937726

Jonathan Dollimore

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