The Sin of Knowledge
Ancient Themes and Modern Variations
By (author) Theodore Ziolkowski
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Sin of Knowledge by Theodore Ziolkowski
Book DescriptionAdam, Prometheus, and Faust--their stories were central to the formation of Western consciousness and continue to be timely cautionary tales in an age driven by information and technology. Here Theodore Ziolkowski explores how each myth represents a response on the part of ancient Hebrew, ancient Greek, and sixteenth-century Christian culture to the problem of knowledge, particularly humankind's powerful, perennial, and sometimes unethical desire for it. This book exposes for the first time the similarities underlying these myths as well as their origins in earlier trickster legends, and considers when and why they emerged in their respective societies. It then examines the variations through which the themes have been adapted by modern writers to express their own awareness of the sin of knowledge. Each myth is shown to capture the anxiety of a society when faced with new knowledge that challenges traditional values. Ziolkowski's examples of recent appropriations of the myths are especially provocative. From Voltaire to the present, the Fall of Adam has provided an image for the emergence from childhood innocence into the consciousness of maturity. Prometheus, as the challenger of authority and the initiator of technological evil, yielded an ambivalent model for the socialist imagination of the German Democratic Republic. And finally, an America unsettled by its responsibility for the atomic bomb, and worrying that in its postwar prosperity it had betrayed its values, recognized in Faust the disturbing image of its soul.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780691050652
(229mm x 152mm x 17mm)
Imprint: Princeton University Press
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publish Date: 23-Oct-2000
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author Theodore Ziolkowski
Alchemist in Literature, Hardback (October 2015)
This study examines the figure of the alchemist in literature from Dante to the present and shows how the popular response to that figure has changed through the ages.
Classicism of the Twenties, Hardback (January 2015)View all books by Theodore Ziolkowski
The triumph of avant-gardes in the 1920s tends to dominate our discussions of the music, art, and literature of the period. In this book, the author offers a compelling account of that movement. Focusing on the works of Stravinsky, Picasso, and T S Eliot, It shows how the turn to classicism manifested itself.
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