The Passionate Muse: Exploration of Emotion in Stories

Hardcover | March 1, 2012

byKeith Oatley

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The emotions a character feels - Hamlet's vengefulness when he realizes his uncle has killed his father, Anna Karenina's despair when she feels she can longer sustain her life, Marcel's joy when he tastes a piece of madeleine cake - are vital aspects of the experience of fiction. As KeithOatley points out, it's not just the emotions of literary characters such as these in which we are interested. If we didn't ourselves experience emotions, we wouldn't go to the play, or watch the film, or read the book. In The Passionate Muse, Oatley, who is both a prize-winning novelist and a distinguished research psychologist, offers a hybrid book that alternates sections of an original short story, "One Another," with chapters that illuminate the psychology of emotion and fiction. Oatley not only providesinsight into how people engage in stories, he also illuminates the value of emotion and the importance of stories for our psychological well-being. Indeed, he offers evidence that the more fiction we read, the better is our understandings of others. Through fiction, we come to know more about theemotions of others and ourselves.

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From the Publisher

The emotions a character feels - Hamlet's vengefulness when he realizes his uncle has killed his father, Anna Karenina's despair when she feels she can longer sustain her life, Marcel's joy when he tastes a piece of madeleine cake - are vital aspects of the experience of fiction. As KeithOatley points out, it's not just the emotions of...

Keith Oatley is Professor Emeritus of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Toronto. He is the author of three novels and six books of psychology, and co-author of the textbook Understanding Emotions.

other books by Keith Oatley

Understanding Emotions
Understanding Emotions

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Such Stuff as Dreams: The Psychology of Fiction
Such Stuff as Dreams: The Psychology of Fiction

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see all books by Keith Oatley
Format:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.98 inPublished:March 1, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199767637

ISBN - 13:9780199767632

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Customer Reviews of The Passionate Muse: Exploration of Emotion in Stories

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from An Emotional Read This is a very enjoyable and informative book. In one sense it does not tell us much that is new, but it does reaffirm important information about the role of fiction with regard to our emotions, and, perhaps more importantly, it backs up these insights with hard data from various psychological tests. The approach Oatley takes is interesting. He is a novelist as well as a psychologist and nicely combines the two. He wrote a short story for this book which he presents in sections. Each section of the story is then used to talk about how fiction affects our emotions, along with some commentary on the nature of short stories. The story itself isn't that great, and I found it quite predictable, but that is beside the point. Oatley's point is to show how fiction influences our emotions, and in this sense, he succeeds. He shows how conflict sets up our emotional response, which will differ from reader to reader depending on our backgrounds and on how we relate to the characters. The main theme of the book is to point out that reading fiction has a positive effect on our emotional outlook. He describes various tests where people were given different kinds of things to read. The people were given personality tests before and after and the reading of fiction resulted in personality changes. Of course. these changes were not long lasting. But if one were to read lots of fiction, these changes can become more permanent. Recommended for lovers of literature and burgeoning psychologists.
Date published: 2012-08-06

Extra Content

Table of Contents

One another-- Part I1. EnjoymentOne another-- Part II2. The suspense of plotOne another-- Part III3. Falling in loveOne another-- Part IV4. Loss and sadnessOne another-- Part V5. TransformationOne another-- Part VI6. Anger and retributionOne another-- Part VII7. Other minds8. ReflectionAcknowledgmentsNotesNotes