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Knowledge and Mortality

"Anagnorisis</I> in Genesis and Narrative Fiction


Sherryll M. Mleynek

Aristotle identifies «the transformation from ignorance to knowledge,» or anagnorisis as crucial to dramatic tension. Using the Biblical «garden» as the locus classicus of anagnorisis in Western narrative fiction, this study establishes the connection between knowledge and mortality in Genesis, and analyzes anagnorisis and mortality in three nineteenth-century British novels, Middlemarch, Tess of the d'Urbervilles and Pride and Prejudice, and in the «postmodern» novel Possession. Ultimately, it is a proof that the suffusing literary motif of «knowledge and mortality» is inescapable: it transcends fictional genre and period because the «knowledge of mortality» is humanity's most ontologically disturbing burden.