Grief and the Poet

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Poetry, drama and the novel present readers and viewers with emotionally significant situations that they often experience as moving, and their being so moved is one of the principal motivations for engaging with fictions. If emotions are considered as action-prompting beliefs about the environment, the appetite for sad or frightening drama and literature is difficult to explain, insofar nothing tragic or frightening is actually happening to the reader, and people do not normally enjoy being sad or frightened. The paper argues that the somewhat limited and problematic epistemological framework for dealing with the question of fiction-induced emotions has been enhanced by a better empirical understanding of the role of the emotions in social animals and in our individual hedonic economies, as well as by a more generous philosophical assessment of what counts as `real'. Literary works can be understood further as monuments to experiences of loss that memorialize the highly pleasurable attachments associated with them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-91
Number of pages15
JournalBritish journal of aesthetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013

Bibliographical note

With comments by Gilmore, James, Ricks, Russell, and Walton and replies by the Author.

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