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The Faces of Depression in Literature

Edited By Josefa Ros Velasco

The Faces of Depression in Literature brings together some of the best-known specialists and scholars on the topic of depression in literature worldwide to offer a multidisciplinary approach concerning the philosophical, theological, and literary narratives of depression over time and their approximations to the current, clinical understanding of Major Depressive Disorder. The authors clarify the background of depression by paying attention to its representation through these narratives and revalue them as a means of acquiring knowledge in an interdisciplinary way. This pioneering initiative fills the knowledge gap that still exists concerning the nature of depression from a multidisciplinary perspective that takes into account some cross-cutting narratives. The authors give voice to the forgotten manifestations of depression found in literature, philosophy, theology, and even early medical works. The Faces of Depression in Literature is for graduates and researchers on depression from a cultural and social point of view, including philosophers, historians, cultural theorists, literature and art experts and enthusiasts, as well as artists and writers themselves, specialists in mental health and cognitive psychology, and anyone interested in a better understanding of the human condition.
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7 Anhedonia, Dysthymia, and Tristasia: Depressed Characters in Alice McDermott’s Novels (Gail Shanley Corso (Neumann University, Pennsylvania))


7 Anhedonia, Dysthymia, and Tristasia: Depressed Characters in Alice McDermott’s Novels

Gail Shanley Corso

Neumann University, Pennsylvania

Characters from literature who experience complications from love and loss often exhibit depression1 in its many forms. Such is the case for characters in novels by Alice McDermott. These characters may resort to pretense and lies as a means to cope with loss, or silences to avoid shame for their family or themselves, as in Charming Billy (1998); they may become unable to respond appropriately in situations, or they may have a sense of confused identity about their self-worth or relationships to others, as in A Bigamist’s Daughter (1982). Some underlying guilt or unresolved emotional pain often underscores narratives of such characters, as in Child of My Heart (2002). While some might experience memory loss of cultural identity, as in Charming Billy, others experience a heightened remembrance of specific incidents in their life or in the life of someone whose memory they cherish. In such reminiscences, a character as a first-person narrator, or a community of narrators returns to a specific incident or two, or peak moments2 through which they frame their beliefs and values. In That Night (1987), Someone (2013), and The Ninth Hour (2017a), peak moments surface in the cyclical structure of the stories, in those significant memories that the narrators select to retell. Through these moments, the readers recognize a character’s moment of awakening about self, and the storytellers’ understanding of the...

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