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

By Jenefer Robinson | Go to book overview

4
The Importance of Being Emotional

In every great poem—in Shakespeare's plays, in Dante's Corn-
media, in Goethe's Faust—we must indeed pass through the
whole gamut of emotions. If we were unable to grasp the most
delicate nuances of the different shades of feeling, unable to
follow the continuous variations in rhythm and tone, if un-
moved by sudden dynamic changes, we could not understand
and feel the poem.

Ernst Cassirer, An Essay on Man


How to Read a Story

A good story makes us curious and suspenseful about what is going to happen; it makes us laugh and cry; and it may make us feel fear and anger, horror and disgust, love and compassion, indeed the whole repertoire of emotions in our culture. In this chapter I'll explain how the emotions function when we respond emotionally to characters and events in novels, plays, and movies. We'll see that emotion processes actually work just the same way when we respond to characters and events in novels, plays, and movies, as they do when we respond to people and events in real life.1 In this chapter I'll be explaining how our emotional responses to novels, plays, and movies help us to understand them, to understand characters, and grasp the significance of events in the plot. (And in Ch. 6 I'll be explaining how our emotional responses to novels, plays, and movies can also teach us about life itself.) I'll suggest that our emotions help us in the construction of a satisfactory summary reading of the novel or play or movie, or what is often called an 'interpretation'.

-105-

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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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