This article nominates Bruno Snell’s Discovery of the Mind (1946; trans. 1953) as an Undead Text on the basis of three criteria. The article examines first the persistence of a Snellian story about the Greeks as the ancestors of modern Europe within the discipline of classics, before considering the broader question of how Undead Texts interact with Undead (Grand) Narratives. It then considers Discovery as an Undead Narrative in its symbiotic relationship with E. R. Dodds’s Greeks and the Irrational, which remains a standard-bearer of the narrative of the Greeks as Other to the moderns. In its final analysis, the article looks to Discovery as itself a perennially productive site for plotting the coordinates of Same and Other in relationship to the ancient Greeks, arguing that such questions are as much about enabling new attachments to the “classical” past as they are about conservative claims of heritage or, conversely, estrangement from the present.
Bruno Snell, The Discovery of the Mind (1946; trans. 1953)
Brooke Holmes is the Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities and Director of the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities at Princeton University. She is the author of The Symptom and the Subject: The Emergence of the Physical Body in Ancient Greece (2010) and Gender: Antiquity and Its Legacy (2012), and she is currently at work on a book provisionally titled “The Tissue of the World: Sympathy, Life, and Nature in Greco-Roman Antiquity.”
Brooke Holmes; Bruno Snell, The Discovery of the Mind (1946; trans. 1953). Public Culture 1 May 2020; 32 (2 (91)): 363–374. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-8090124
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