From Faust to Strangelove: Representations of the Scientist in Western Literature
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication Date :
1 Jan 1994
They were mad, of course. Or evil. Or godless, amoral, arrogant, impersonal, and inhuman. At best, they were well intentioned but blind to the dangers of forces they barely controlled. They were Faust and Frankenstein, Jekyll and Moreau, Caligari and Strangelove the scientists of film and fiction, cultural archetypes that reflected ancient fears of tampering with the unknown or unleashing the little-understood powers of nature. This book offers a detailed and comprehensive study of the image of the scientist in Western literature and film, from medieval images of alchemists to present-day depictions of cyberpunks and genetic engineers. Drawing on British, American, German, French, Russian and other examples, Haynes explores the "persistent folklore of mad doctors of science" and its relation to popular fears of a depersonalized, male dominated, and socially irresponsible pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. She concludes that today's public response to science and scientists, much of it negative, is best understood by recognizing the importance of such cultural archetypes and their significance as myth.
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