Identity/identification in the national psyche: The project(ion) of melancholia in Bienvenido N. Santos novels

Date of Publication


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Language and Literature Major in Literature

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature


College of Liberal Arts


Literature, Department of

Thesis Adviser

David Jonathan Bayot

Defense Panel Chair

Jeremy De Chavez

Defense Panel Member

Ronald Baytan
Shirley Lua


The fictions of Bienvenido N. Santos have long been stigmatized as works that strongly resonate themes of sadness, loneliness, and exile, positing the analyses of his works mainly on thematic grounds. This critical study departs from the usual undertaking of his novels in order to achieve a sound inquiry of what constitutes an authentic Filipino identification in relation to the nature of melancholia. Furthermore, his expanse of novels is posited as a corpus that aims to address not just an individual concern, but a national interest. His five novels, (1) Villa Magdalena, (2) The volcano, (3) The praying man, (4) The man who (thought he) looked like Robert Taylor, and (5) What the hell for you left your heart in San Francisco, collectively present varying facets and insights (almost like a project) to how Santos develops this concept of melancholia. The framework of Santos projection of melancholia is initiated by a characters loss of selfhood, patterned after Jacques lacans imago, this then turns the character vulnerable and gradually transits him/her to the space of melancholia, which are chiefly manifested by their overt monologues of misery and display of weaknesses, as discussed in Sigmund Freuds Mourning and Melancholia. The main proposition of the study is to examine and interpret how the varied melancholic manifestations of his novels characters serve to collectively build an identification, or working identity, for the Philippine psyche that is anchored on a melancholic projection. The consequent results of each novels analysis verifies Julia Kristevas claim on the antidotal nature of melancholia in her essay The Melancholic Imaginary, and serve to reveal the greater motive of Santos projection of a Philippine psyche immersed in melancholia in order to address a nations burden.

Abstract Format






Accession Number


Shelf Location

Archives, The Learning Commons, 12F Henry Sy Sr. Hall

Physical Description

1 computer optical disc ; 4 3/4 in.


Melancholy in literature

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