Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Winter 2008

Publication Title

College Literature

Abstract

The traditional view holds that love and knowledge are only possible if a person can transcend the human—love is that which overcomes biological urges like lust, while knowledge is that which gets beyond self-interested perception. In the nineteenth century, when theories about anthropomorphism came to dominate, the traditional views of love and knowledge were exposed as incoherent. In "Morpho Eugenia," A.S. Byatt brilliantly dramatizes how these intellectual developments impacted the lives of a wide range of nineteenth-century characters—some sunk into nihilistic despair, some became dogmatic scientists, some became tortured existentialists, and some tried to build a new and more reasonable conception of love and knowledge. In my essay, I examine the necessary consequences the nineteenth-century’s anthropomorphic turn had on theories about knowledge and love. Put simply, Byatt suggests that the major shift in our theory of knowledge, while devastating for many, actually set the stage for political empowerment for many others.

Publisher

John Hopkins University Press

Volume

35

Issue

1

First Page

128

Last Page

147

DOI

10.1353/lit.2008.0011

ISSN

1542-4286

Comments

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by John Hopkins University Press in College Literature in Winter 2008, available online: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/230325

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