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by Roger Shattuck

ePub Forbidden Knowledge: From Prometheus To Pornography download
Roger Shattuck
St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (August 15, 1996)
History & Criticism
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The book traces the problem of forbidden knowledge from its origins in myth and folklore (Prometheus, Pandora, Eve . The subtitle "From Prometheus to Pornography" points to the middle ground Shattuck ultimately takes. The first half of the book sets up the opposition in literary terms.

The book traces the problem of forbidden knowledge from its origins in myth and folklore (Prometheus, Pandora, Eve, and Faustus) up through the more modern attempt to deal with its meaning for our moral well-being. He has especially strong chapters on Milton's Paradise Lost, which he sees as a turning point in our understanding of the theme, and Melville's Billy Budd, which he praises by damning comparison with Camus's The Stranger.

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The term forbidden knowledge takes a harsher approach to these . This book has a personal origin. Stung now in the depths of his being, Zeus bound Prometheus to a rock, with an attendant vulture to eat out his liver.

The term forbidden knowledge takes a harsher approach to these questions. It represents a category of thought with a long history, too complex to be one of Lovejoy's "unit ideas," yet demonstrably the armature of many powerful narratives.

Roger Whitney Shattuck (August 20, 1923 in Manhattan, New York . Forbidden Knowledge: From Prometheus to Pornography (1994).

Roger Whitney Shattuck (August 20, 1923 in Manhattan, New York – December 8, 2005 in Lincoln, Vermont) was an American writer best known for his books on French literature, art, and music of the twentieth century. 1 Background and education. Candor and Perversion: Literature, Education, and the Arts (1998).

Includes bibliographical references (p. -358) and index

Includes bibliographical references (p. -358) and index. The far side of curiosity - Milton in the Garden of Eden - Faust and Frankenstein - The pleasures of abstinence : Mme de Lafayette and Emily Dickinson - Guilt, justice, and empathy in Melville and Camus - Taking stock - Knowledge exploding : science and technology - The divine Marquis - The sphinx and the unicorn. Appendix I : Six categories of forbidden knowledge - Appendix II : The occult - Appendix III : "The sphinz", by Francis Bacon.

Just what IS 'forbidden knowledge'? Roger Shattuck answers brilliantly in this absorbing book: the knowledge of ourselves. And how come we're not supposed to know? As Shattuck traces our views of God, Man, and Nature through literature, you'll find yourself saying "why didn't I think of that?" My book club discussed this work, and we were up til two in the morning arguing about it. Most enjoyable!

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Beyond the mundane discussions about secrecy versus openness, or privacy versus transparency, there is a much higher level of discussion, one about the nature, limits, and morality of knowledge

Book Format: Paperback.

Book Format: Paperback. Shattuck's only effective argument in this considerably over-written scholarly study is his argument that violent pornography correlates strongly with sexually sadistic serial killers (although he fails to even address the issue of whether violent pornography is a cause or an effect in that correlation). Shattuck is a literary scholar attempting sociology, and frankly, he's not very good at it.

oceedings{nKF, title {Forbidden Knowledge: From Prometheus to. .

oceedings{nKF, title {Forbidden Knowledge: From Prometheus to Pornography}, author {Roger Shattuck}, year {1996} }. Roger Shattuck. Forbidden Knowledge is a scintillating work that does nothing less than trace the tragic arc of Western literatue and culture, exploring the notion of forbidden knowledge from the sexual innocence of Adam and Eve to the sexual excesses of the Marquis de Sade and beyond.

An examination of the meaning of moral responsibility in literature and our everyday lives suggests that we live in a violated world that dismisses taboos. BOMC & History Alt. Reader's Subscription Main. First serial, The New York Times Book Review.
  • Gives a fascinating look from the earliest oral traditions & writings to the 20th century at things, mostly books & works of art, that have been banned or locked away by rulers, the Catholic Church, and governments. Everything from the Marquis de Sade to Promethius' fire is covered. Very interesting read.

  • I did not understand 30 % of the conclusions.

  • I love this book. The price was much cheaper than what i would find in stores or on kindle. I love an old fashioned hard cover book reading is a big stress reliever for me. The item arrived and in excellent condition


  • A rare and wonderful argument, written with verve and considerable moral urgency, Forbidden Knowledge frames the question of whether there are some things we should not know. The subtitle "From Prometheus to Pornography" points to the middle ground Shattuck ultimately takes.
    The first half of the book sets up the opposition in literary terms. Untrammeled exploration is the taking of what cultural institutions say must not be taken; Shattuck traces this exploration from the myth of the fire stealer Prometheus, through Eve's eating of the interdicted apple in the Bible and Paradise Lost, Ulysses' illicit voyage (Book XXVI, Dante's Inferno), and many other literary representations. The opposing way of approaching prohibitions is found in two instances (both written by women, a point Shattuck could make more of) of liberation that comes through self-limitation: La Princesse de Cleves and the poetry of Emily Dickinson. The second half of Forbidden Knowledge applies these oppositions to life, as in the social consequences of violent pornography (e. g., De Sade's influence on Ted Bundy) and scientific exploration (the human genome project) that seems to promise complete control over human existence. Shattuck's range of literary reference is divertingly breathtaking: Socrates and rap, Aeschylus and Woody Allen, Goethe, Ghandi, Melville, Maimonides, Walter Pater, Democritus, Roland Barthes, Perrault--aw, hell, everything: if you've taken Western Literature at any quarter-baked college or university, you'll come upon something you've read. And Shattuck will illuminate it from the alternative perspectives of pleonexia vs. portee.
    It would have been simple-minded, easy, and instantly suspect to compose a polemic for intellectual freedom. This Shattuck does not do. He argues instead that philosophical and scientific thought--the law of infinite regress, for instance--affirms the impossibility of complete knowledge. Although human nature is such that exploration cannot be stopped, the ways in which knowledge is applied can be controlled. Incompleteness is inevitable--and humanizing. "Be lowly wise" (Paradise Lost, Book VIII).
    I summarize shamelessly because I am confident that anyone who reads this will want the book. It is learned, original, many-sided, allusive without crowing, invigorating, earnest yet sophisticated, written with humor and grace. In our age, when science and art have displaced religion, only scientific and aesthetic arguments can hold weight. Forbidden Knowledge is the largest and most valuable contemporary book I have read to address in large, relevant compass the question of moral responsibility. And it is the only one to do so convincingly.

  • Despite its age (10 years), this is a remarkably perennial work. It uses myths, stories, literature, science, and art to weave a fundamental question: Are there some things, anything, not knowable or worth not knowing? Such questions like man's "fall from grace," man's "freedom of will," and man's "inherent sinfulness," have typically been such questions. But with the advent of nuclear arms, the human genome project, coupled with the elevation of the Marquise de Sade to canonical stature, and "art for art's sake," are there "limits" to which we ought not to reach? Are there any limits to knowledge qua knowledge?

    Philosophy and science answer with a resounding, No. Religion answers with a resounding, Yes. Art has no answer, or if it has an answer, seems to be, No. More than half-a-century ago, Richard Weaver wrote the compelling book, "Ideas Have Consequences." Well, we've seen many of those "ideas" set into unfettered motion, and the subsequent consequences have fallen anywhere from the "ho-hum" to the dire. Is technology outpacing our moral resourcefulness? What about atomic energy/bomb? What about eugenics/euthanasia? What about nihilism? Relativism? Etc? Shattuck doesn't have a sabot answer for us, but he raises what are obviously moral questions that must be answered. The fact that few of us are even asking these questions is itself a moral hazard.

    Shattuck converses a very narrow scope, which is often claustrophobic and seemingly myopic, but the questions, if one's imagination can encompass the morass, are vital and pervasive.

  • Shattuck's prose is energetic and free of the obtuse sociological newspeak that disfigures so many other books on like topics. He is strongest (to me at least) where his expertise lies: in the analysis of literature and legends and what these are telling us about fundamental aspects of human nature. I will comment critically on the middle section of the book, where he discusses modern genetics, the area of my expertise. Shattuck understands the current state of knowledge to a degree outstanding for someone without formal training. However, he betrays his limitation by failing to point out that all our sophiscticated knowledge of human genotype, that is, the exact sequence and structure of each gene, far outstrips our understanding of what these genes exactly do. And beyond this, we have no earthly clue about how each gene interacts with other genes (there are 100,000 of them at least), and even beyond that, how these gene interactions change with age, experience, and exposure to the environment. The dangerous conceit is, that once we have the completed the Genome Project, decisions about people's lives might be made by governments and insurance companies based solely on knowledge of genotype. I believe this conceit can be avoided, and that we should push forward, but the danger ought to be acknowledged. Despite this shortcoming, I give Shattuck a five because I so thoroughly enjoyed this book and learned so much from it.