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Title: Ghosts of girlfriends past: development of a literary episode
Authors: Laguna Mariscal, Gabriel
Keywords: Ghosts;girlfriend;topos;classical tradition;divination;dreams;apparition;epiphany
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Imprensa da Universidade de Coimbra
Abstract: Most ancient Greeks and Romans believed in the ability of ghosts to interact and communicate with living humans by means of apparitions, usually through dreams. The ghost of a beloved one could show up to the surviving lover with the purpose of reproaching him for his past behavior or conveying instructions. This chapter explores some relevant milestones in the history of this literary motif from Homer to contemporary culture. As a precedent, Patroclus appears to Achilles to require a proper burial (Il. 23. 65-107). In Propertius (Elegies 4.7), Cynthia shows up to Propertius in a dream and reproaches him. The Propertian passage will be a key reference for later treatments. Petrarch remembers Laura’s visits from heaven in numerous poems of his Canzoniere. The Mannerist poet Luis Martín de Plaza also dedicated a moving sonnet to the motif to express his feelings of haplessness. In contemporary poetry, Jaime Gil de Biedma describes the ghostly visit of his beloved Bel as a symbol of remorse. The motif constitutes the subject-matter of an entire poetic cycle by Luis Alberto de Cuenca: the ghostly visits only cause frustration in him.
ISBN: 978-989-26-1765-7 (PDF)
DOI: 10.14195/978-989-26-1765-7_8
Rights: open access
Appears in Collections:Visitors from beyond the grave: ghosts in world literature

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