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Author Ziolkowski, Theodore.

Title The sin of knowledge : ancient themes and modern variations / Theodore Ziolkowski
Published Princeton : Princeton University Press, ©2000
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Description 1 online resource (xvi, 222 pages) : illustrations
Contents Prelude: The Timeless Topicality of Myth -- pt. 1. Ancient Themes. Ch. 1. Adam: The Genesis of Consciousness. Ch. 2. Prometheus: The Birth of Civilization. Ch. 3. Faust: The Ambivalence of Knowledge. Interlude: From Myth to Modernity -- pt. 2. Modern Variations. Ch. 4. The Secularization of Adam. Ch. 5. The Proletarianization of Prometheus -- Ch. 6. The Americanization of Faust -- Postlude: On the Uses and Abuses of Myth
The timeless topicality of myth -- Ancient themes. Adam: the genesis of consciousness. The Biblical fall -- Near Eastern sources -- The paradox of knowledge in Solomon's Jerusalem -- Prometheus: the birth of civilization. Hesiod's trickster -- Aeschylus's culture-hero -- From Boeotia to Athens -- Faust: the ambivalence of knowledge. The historical Faust -- The growth of the legend -- The chapbook speculator -- Marlowe's power seeker -- From myth to modernity -- Modern variations. The secularization of Adam. Candide's fall -- The typological impulse -- Romantic tragicomic falls -- American ambiguities -- modern ironies -- The proletarianization of Prometheus. From myth to Marx -- Modern metaphors -- Marxist myths -- GDR ambiguities -- Three major re-visions -- The enemy of the people -- The Americanization of Faust. Modernizations of the myth -- Faust and the bomb -- Playful Fausts of the fifties -- A blue-collar Faust -- Professorial Fausts -- Fausts of politics and poetry -- Fausts for the nineties -- On the uses and abuses of myth
Summary "Adam, 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
"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."--Jacket
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."
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references (pages 193-216) and index
Notes Print version record
Subject Adam (Biblical figure) -- In literature
Prometheus (Greek deity) -- In literature
Faust, -approximately 1540 -- In literature
Adam (Biblical figure)
Prometheus (Greek deity)
Faust, -approximately 1540.
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang{von.
Mythology in literature.
Mythology in literature.
Wissen Motiv
Form Electronic book
ISBN 0691223947