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When Is a Robot a Human? Hope, Myth, and Humanity in Bernard Beckett's "Genesis"

Puetz, Babette

Marciniak, Katarzyna

This chapter discusses the role of hope in Bernard Beckett’s New Zealand young adult novel Genesis (2006). It looks at how the author employs allusions to ancient myth and philosophy (Plato) to place the topic in a wider context, in particular to shed light on the notion of false hope. Mainly, this chapter focuses on the novel’s protagonist Anax’s (false) hope, as expressed in her uncritical belief in her state’s ideology. It also explores the crucial part which myth plays in creating this false hope and how hope, in combination with myth, is employed by the author to give readers the misleading impression that Anax is human, rather than a robot. Genesis’ allusions to ancient myths help its readers place Anax’s and Adam’s (a human character) views and actions into a wider context and understand how hope, as an emotion which is central to our humanity, has always been a decisive motivator for human decision-making (both on the personal and on the state level) and for cultural progress, and will still be in the future.

Book chapter in the volume: Katarzyna Marciniak, ed., Our Mythical Hope: The Ancient Myths as Medicine for Hardships of Life in Children's and Young Adults' Culture, in the series "Our Mythical Childhood", Warsaw: University of Warsaw Press, 2021, 836 pp. Open Access This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement No 681202 (2016–2022), Our Mythical Childhood... The Reception of Classical Antiquity in Children's and Young Adults' Culture in Response to Regional and Global Challenges, ERC Consolidator Grant led by Katarzyna Marciniak. Project's Website:
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