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Melancholies of Knowledge
Literature in the Age of Science
Melancholies of Knowledge
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Margery Arent Safir - Editor
SUNY series, The Margins of Literature
Price: $50.50 
Hardcover - 205 pages
Release Date: January 1999
ISBN10: 0-7914-3973-9
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-3973-9

Quantity:  
Price: $31.95 
Paperback - 205 pages
Release Date: January 1999
ISBN10: 0-7914-3974-7
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-3974-6

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Scholars in the exact and social sciences join literary critics to consider the work of French author Michel Rio and to reflect on literature's place in intellectual discourse in an age dominated by science.

"What does an evolutionary biologist derive from seeing a theory he himself has written about as a scientist 'translated' by an author of fiction? How is the perception of this scientific and mathematical knowledge changed by its insertion into a work of fiction, where it itself becomes fiction? How do different bodies of knowledge operate on the same body of fiction? What is the reaction of a specialist in a discipline when he sees cold fact acting on an individual who feels, when knowledge weighs on a life? What is the effect of man's knowledge of the world on man, where knowledge not only does not preclude but operates on flesh and blood, suffering and desire, humor and fear? Like Michel Rio's fiction, this collection aims at a comprehensive grammar, a unified rhetoric of logic and human sensibility, of the mythologies and melancholies of knowledge." -- Margery Arent Safir, from the Introduction

Offering interdisciplinary criticism and methodology, this book includes essays by scientists, social scientists, and literary critics on the work of the French novelist Michel Rio. Contributors include Stephen Jay Gould, world-renowned biologist and best-selling science writer; James Ritter, editor of the Einstein papers, physicist, and historian of science; Michel Pastoureau, France's celebrated medieval historian; Joaquin Galarza, Mexican anthropologist and discoverer of Aztec pictograms as a writing system ("The Champollion of Aztec letters"); Christian Metz, internationally recognized semiologist and the founder of semiology of cinema; and literary scholars Jean-Michel Rabate, James Swenson, and Margery Arent Safir.

Melancholies of Knowledge offers a non-specialist's description of the most important scientific changes in the century--easily understandable and related to issues of concern in the humanities. The book provides an opportunity to see how these scientific changes are being incorporated into literary discourse, into the human element outside of theory or the laboratory. It also presents a test case of a new methodology that proposes true interdisciplinarity and that criticizes in an unabashed form many of the conventional methodologies in the field. Melancholies of Knowledge identifies a new class of contemporary fiction, and, as a test case, provides the first serious criticism of a major contemporary French author.

Margery Arent Safir is Professor of Comparative Literature, The American University of Paris. Her previous publications include Earth Tones: The Poetry of Pablo Neruda (with Manuel Duran); A Woman of Letters; Melancholies du savoir (general editor); and Archipelago (a translation of the novel by Michel Rio).


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Table of Contents

Preface

Acknowledgments

Introduction

Margery Arent Safir

Editor's Note

1. Out of Time in the Dreaming Jungles

Stephen Jay Gould

2. "It is not safe to know"

Margery Arent Safir

3. A Disenchanted Enchanter

Michel Pastoureau

4. Cosmoses and Metaphor

James Ritter

5. Topographies

James Swenson

6. The Temptation of the Last Man

Jean-Michel Rabaté

7. The Aztec tlacuilo and the Other

Joaquín Galarza

8. The Mind's I

Christian Metz

Appendices

Contributors

Index


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