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Spring 2024


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New in Critical Inquiry
A Review of Perfection’s Therapy

In this new review in Critical Inquiry, Keith Moxey discusses Mitchell Merback’s Perfection’s Therapy: An Essay on Albrecht Dürer’s Melencolia I. Click here to learn more about the book. Click here to read the full review. An excerpt appears below:

“Unlike most other commentators, Merback resists the impulse to understand the engraving as a statement, a finished product whose intention is susceptible to determination. He argues that the process of speculative contemplation it provokes is more important than any guess as to what it might represent. The ways in which the engraving provokes the imagination to ponder its imagery, in other words, are essential to its appeal. Against a background of late medieval magical, devotional, and mystical imagery specifically designed to create a phenomenological bond with the viewer, Merback argues, this print offers a mirror before which the turbulent emotions of a melancholic temperament might find solace. “'Its controlled chaos structures a restless, indeed turbulent movement across the surface of things seen, a movement that mirrors the turbulence of a psyche as it faces the challenges of experience: hardship and loss, misfortune and misery, illness and death, all of which required remediation and consolation through reason.‘”