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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Peering Down the Bottomless Well: Myth in Thomas Mann's Joseph Tetralogy
by Gurska, Daniel Paul, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2017, 201; 10277390
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation focuses on Thomas Mann’s Joseph and His Brothers and addresses the following questions: what does Mann’s novel have to offer to the field of comparative mythology and how might this biblical retelling be relevant for contemporary readers? One approach the dissertation takes in addressing these questions is examining the novel’s relationship to the biblical book of Genesis and to Jewish midrashic traditions. Through a biographical study of Thomas Mann, the dissertation also examines his primary motivations in writing the novel in the first place. The dissertation focuses on detailed discussion of particular stories in Mann’s retelling and how his versions expand the biblical narrative by weaving in parallels from other myths spanning multiple traditions. This ultimately leads to an exploration of the novel’s contemporary significance.

Considering modern day parallels to the nationalistic one-sidedness of Thomas Mann’s time, the study concludes that Mann’s Joseph tetralogy is just as relevant today as when it was originally written. The assertions made throughout the dissertation point to how this novel can serve as a model for how myths of diverse religious traditions can respectfully interact.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Downing, Christine
Commitee: Downing, Eric, Faessel, Victor
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Mythological Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 78/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Comparative literature, German literature, Biblical studies
Keywords: Exegesis, Genesis, Mann, Joseph, Medrash, Tetralogy
Publication Number: 10277390
ISBN: 978-1-369-73537-6
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