Sublime madness and ennui - melancholy, a condition of imbalance, chaotic and desolate, and a keystone of modern Western thought. In Angels in Mourning, Roger Bartra explores how three lucid European thinkers - Immanuel Kant, Max Weber and Walter Benjamin - addressed the irrational and the dolorous, drawing attention to some apparently marginal aspects of their work in order to illuminate the way in which they gazed into the darkness.
It is not obvious why melancholy should find such a prominent space in our society. Why did this threatening expression of langour and disorder gain such a foothold at the heart of a European culture guided by the light of rationalism? In this surprising and insightful study, Bartra considers this question through the investigations of Kant, Weber and Benjamin, and suggests that one explanation may lie in the blossoming of Romanticism, that deep-seated protest against the Enlightenment and the capitalist order.