Salvation in the secular: The moral law in Thomas Mann's Joseph und seine Brüder

Commentary and feedback invited!

Summary: Elaine's first exploration of the notion of morality independent of monotheist religion was the dissertation SALVATION IN THE SECULAR. Written for the Stanford Ph.D while she was still Elaine Murdaugh (don't ask!) the study was chosen for publication in the Stanford series. The work explores the themes of the German writer Thomas Mann as he himself plays with the biblical story of Joseph in Egypt. The author's conclusion – that the primary moral imperative is not to obey, but to understand and name things – became the bedrock of her future fiction. Not only is En arche en ho logos (In the Beginning was the Word) the leitmotiv of her fan fiction "The Pappas Journals", but in her novel "The 100th Generation", it comes full circle in Egypt. The motif of the Scribe God Thoth, "I know their Names and I will tell their story" once again highlights the mystique of the word and the affirmation of the moral and creative role of the writer.

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© 2002 by Elaine Sutherland and Angelique Corthals. All Rights Reserved. Last Modified Tuesday, February 18, 2003