What's Hecuba to Him?: Fictional Events and Actual Emotions / Edition 1

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Overview

Fiction transports us. We inhabit new worlds in our imagination, adopt perspectives not our own, and even respond emotionally to persons and events that we know are not real.

The very nature of our emotional engagement with fiction, says E. M. Dadlez, attests to the possibility of its moral significance, just as the nature of our imaginative engagement makes us collaborators in the creation of the worlds we imagine.

This book engages contemporary debate over the seeming irrationality or inauthenticity of our emotional response to fiction, examining the many positions taken in this debate and arguing that we can understand the relation between cognition and emotion without devaluing our emotional responses to fiction. It takes Hamlet's famous query as the first step in an analytic philosophical inquiry and, by considering some of the answers that derive from that question, arrives at a set of necessary conditions for an emotional response to fiction.

What Hamlet's player feels for Hecuba, proposes Dadlez, is no more illusory than what we feel for Hamlet; that the actor weeps for Hecuba reflects both our capacity to envision and understand a seemingly limitless variety of human situations—to empathize with others—and the capacity of fiction to facilitate such understanding. What's Hecuba to Him? is an enticingly written work that opens an entire philosophical arena to literary scholars and illuminates the significance that literature has for our moral life.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Dadlez offers a clear, precise, and compelling account of why it is rational to have emotions for fictive characters.”

—Charles Altieri, University of California, Berkeley

Booknews
"What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba, that he should weep for her?" That is the question that Hamlet asks, and the author addresses in her study of fiction and emotional response. She concludes that the player's weeping for Hecuba reflects both on our capacity to envision and to understand a seemingly limitless variety of human situations and on the capacity of fiction to facilitate such understanding and imaginative engagement. Paper edition (unseen), $16.95. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271016511
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 9/4/1997
  • Series: Literature and Philosophy
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 252
  • Product dimensions: 0.57 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 6.00 (d)

Meet the Author

E. M. Dadlez is Assistant Professor in the Department of Humanities and Philosophy at the University of Central Oklahoma.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Fiction, Emotion, and Irrationality 9
2 Nearing Fictions: Feeling as Believing 41
3 Objects of Emotion and Emotional Imagination 73
4 Fiction, Emotion, and Morality 105
5 Imagining Fictional Worlds 141
6 Feeling with Fiction: Empathy and Imagination 165
7 The Satisfyingly Sad and the Sadly Satisfying 197
Afterword 225
Bibliography 227
Index 235
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