Deeper Than Reason: Emotion and Its Role in Literature, Music, and Art

By Jenefer Robinson | Go to book overview

Part Two
Emotion in Literature

It is a deeply rooted idea in contemporary Western culture that there is some peculiarly intimate relationship between the arts and the emotions. Now that we have a better idea of what the emotions are and how they function, I am going to be looking at the role of the emotions in our encounters with the arts. I begin with literature.

In Part Two I examine the idea that one of the important things that literature does is to evoke emotions in readers. In Ch. 4 I argue that some works of literature—especially realistic novels by the likes of Tolstoy and Henry James—need to be experienced emotionally if they are to be properly understood. There is some interesting work in psychology on narrative, but little has been done on the role of emotion in understanding narrative. I explain how our emotions function to help us understand a novel, focusing especially on characters, and I argue that a plausible interpretation of a novel relies on prior emotional responses to it. In Ch. 5 I answer a raft of possible objections to this idea, including the so-called paradox of fiction.

In Ch. 6 I give a reading of Edith Wharton's novel, The Reef, in which I argue that reading a morally serious novel such as The Reef is a means of education, an education of the emotions or, borrowing from Flaubert, a sentimental education. Again, knowing how the emotions actually function enables us to see more clearly exactly what an emotional education consists in. Here I also address two issues that

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Deeper Than Reason: Emotion and Its Role in Literature, Music, and Art
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contents xiii
  • List of Figures xv
  • Part One - What Are Emotions and How Do They Operate? 1
  • 1: Emotions as Judgements 5
  • 2: Boiling of the Blood 28
  • 3: Emotion as Process 57
  • Part Two - Emotion in Literature 101
  • 4: The Importance of Being Emotional 105
  • 5: Puzzles and Paradoxes 136
  • 6: A Sentimental Education 154
  • 7: Formal Devices as Coping Mechanisms 195
  • Part Three - Expressing Emotion in the Arts 229
  • 8: Pouring Forth the Soul 231
  • 9: A New Romantic Theory of Expression 258
  • Part Four - Music and the Emotions 293
  • 10: Emotional Expression in Music 295
  • 11: The Expression of Emotion in Instrumental Music 322
  • 12: Listening with Emotion: How Our Emotions Help Us to Understand Music 348
  • 13: Feeling the Music 379
  • 14: Epilogue 413
  • Notes 415
  • Bibliography 469
  • Index 487
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