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

By Jenefer Robinson | Go to book overview

5
Puzzles and Paradoxes

Problems

In Ch. 4 I explained how and why our emotional responses are a way of understanding a novel (or other narrative) and how they can—and often should—serve as the basis of interpretations. To have one's emotions evoked as one reads a realistic novel is often not only desirable but also necessary to a proper understanding of the novel. But in laying out this view, I ignored a number of potential problems with it. In the present chapter I will address some of those potential problems. Readers who are not interested in the detail of the philosophical arguments, and who are already convinced of what I say, can skip this chapter if they wish.


First Objection: Lots of Novels Don't Require Emotional Involvement

I gladly acknowledge that many novels do not require intense emotional investment in the characters. I can read a 'stock' detective novel or Harlequin romance without getting emotionally worked up about the characters, simply because I understand it as just a characteristic member of a particular genre. There is no need for me to enter into the feelings of the detective or the country squire or the butler: they are just stock characters behaving in a stock way. On the other hand, even stock genres evoke some emotions, although they may be stock emotions. It would be an unsuccessful detective story that did not make us curious and suspenseful about what is going to happen, and a failure for a Harlequin romance to arouse no feelings of satisfaction when the heroine is rescued by the mysterious dark and handsome hero.

-136-

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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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