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The heart not only drives our physical life, but throughout human history it has also been viewed as the seat of our deepest emotions. It has figured hugely if metaphorically in nearly every aspect of human civilization, and as the unending subject of literature, music and art. Yet until now there has not been a study of this paramount icon of love. Ole M. Hoystad ably fills this enormous gap with a compelling investigation into this epicentre of grief, joy and power. Firmly positioning the heart at the metaphorical and literal centre of human culture and history, Hoystad combs through religions and philosophies from the beginning of civilization to explore such disparate historical points as the Aztecs' ritual of removing the still-beating heart from a living sacrificial victim and offering it to the gods; homosexuality and the heart in Greek antiquity; European attempts to employ alchemy in service of the mysteries of love; and the connections between the heart and wisdom in Sufism.
Hoystad charts how the heart has signified our essential desires, whether for love and passion in the medieval excesses of troubadour poetry and chivalric idealism, the body-soul dualism propounded by the Enlightenment, or even the modern notions of individualism expressed in the works of thinkers such as Nietzsche and Foucault. A provocative examination of the deepest vaults of our souls and the efforts of the many lonely hunters who have tried to unlock its secrets, "A History of the Heart" subverts the cliches to reveal a symbol of our fundamental humanity whose beats can be felt in every aspect of our lives.
Ole M. Hoystad is Professor of Cultural Studies at Telemark University College in Norway, and currently Visiting Professor of Cultural Studies and History at the University of Southern Denmark, Odense.
Preface INTRODUCTION THE HEART IN DIFFERENT CULTURES The oldest of high civilizations - Sumer and Gilgamesh The mythical heart in ancient Egyptian culture Anthropology The many-sided human being of Greek antiquity Mankind in Homer Laughter and passion The Dionysian and the Apollonian Homosexuality in antiquity The Platonic human image From Aristotle to Galen The history of Plato's legacy The heart in the Bible and in Christianity The Old Testament The New Testament Paul Augustine Augustine's legacy and the Middle Ages The greatest and most beautiful European creation? Islam - last surviving heart culture? The wisdom of the heart and the heart of wisdom in Sufism Arabian influences on European culture Aztecs - Why so heartless? I am fat, even at the heart-roots - Norse anthropology THE EMERGENCE OF THE MODERN EUROPEAN - THE CONFLICT ABOUT THE HEART The emotional turn in the High Middle Ages Troubadour poetry Novels of chivalry Eroticism and religion: Abelard og Heloise The heart in romantic love Tales of everyday love The new subject Descartes and the body-soul dualism Montaigne: Man is his work The body of the text and the text of the body Eros and Thanatos: Ars moriendi From Renaissance and alchemy to Romanticism Shakespeare the heartbreaker "I cannot heave my heart into my mouth" Rousseau - philosopher of the heart Herder and the expressive turn The Faustian Goethe Long live individualism! From Nietzsche to Foucault and Campbell POSTSCRIPT: THE CIRCULATORY SYSTEM OF THE EMOTIONS BIBLIOGRAPHY NAME REGISTER
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