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‚Anagnorisis‘ in der ‚World Literature‘

Literarische (Wieder-)Erkennungsszenen in Ost und West

Annette Simonis

Pages 267 - 294

The following article explores various forms of ‚anagnorisis‘ (greek αναγνώρισις) and illuminates their crucial role and decisive impact in world literature, by showcasing the surprising frequency of this much loved poetic device in different literary genres and media. From Aristotelian poetics to modern tv series the figure of recognition, which is closely associated with scenes or sequences of anagnorisis, is indeed widespread in dramatic and narrative texts. The prevailing significance and multiple functions of the seemingly clear-cut notion of the term can be observed on a global scale from early antiquity to modern times, and, to the present. As has been revealed by recent scholarly work, ‚anagnorisis‘ proves to be a very complex and ambivalent experience in literary texts and poetics, allowing psychological subtlety and inviting philosophical investigation. Moreover, its employment in recent Chinese novels and corresponding tv series highlights its crucial role in developing and combining certain plot sequences in order to achieve a convincing denouement. The artful use of anagnorisis scenes in the ‚wuxia‘ and the ‚xianxia genre‘ in contemporary Chinese culture inspires a new approach to the poetic device closely linked to Greek and Western tradition, yet, it ultimately confirms the outstanding aesthetic quality and the precarious nature of recognition.


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