This chapter reviews the corpus as a whole and provides a frame for its understanding as a cultural phenomenon. It begins with the question of the collective identity of Mignon and her reincarnations on both a thematic and a historical axis. Among the topics considered are the character of Mignon’s story as a recognition plot, its tendency to generate biofictions, and in particular the threshold states that Mignon occupies: gender ambiguity and androgyny, social and ethnic uncertainty, psychopathological and medical indeterminacies, frontiers of the human and the natural. In the historical frame, these issues may be read as an attempt to come to terms with the Enlightenment and its aftermath, and a working through of early Romantic idealization of woman; but the chapter concludes with the suggestion that the ultimate frame of reference is cognitive: Mignon and her afterlives are, and have always been, a vehicle and instrument of thought.
Keywords: collective identity; recognition plots; biofiction; androgyny; psychopathology; frontiers of the human; Enlightenment; idealization of woman; cognition
Chapter. 16147 words.
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