Abstract

Recent years have seen a tremendous upsurge in the fields of evolutionary and cognitive approaches to literature. Such interdisciplinary undertakings productively supplement, but do not replace more traditional humanistic approaches. Using Jonathan Gottschall's tree of knowledge metaphor, I attempt to outline a hierarchy of application where input from more “fundamental” branches of knowledge becomes increasingly less useful as one moves “higher” to more abstract fields. As an example I attempt to tease out an evo-cognitive interpretation of Pushkin's Eugene Onegin that tries to account for some of its hold on the Russian imagination. The deceptively simple plot of the novel produces a complex narrative by playing off of and then subverting our expectations, which are formed by attention to evolutionarily-relevant information supplied by the text.

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