chapter  1
9 Pages

Placing melancholy in landscape architecture

Melancholy is at once complex and contradictory. For some it is an emotion, for others a mental illness, or even a mood, a disposition, an affect, an effect. Melancholy’s extensive history ranges across everything from cures for something considered a disease, to paeans to its poignant beauty. While in the Dark Ages the ‘melancholy of monks’ – also called acedia – necessitated a redoubling of prayer and an extra dose of courage, by the Romantic era melancholy was a source of inspiration for the poetry of Milton, Coleridge and Keats.1 Melancholy imbues artworks from Dürer’s Melancolia I (1514) to Anselm Kiefer’s Melancholia (1989),2 literature from Shakespeare to Sebald, and music from the medieval mystic Hildegard of Bingen to Nick Cave.3 But it is to the landscape that this book turns.