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    Passionate Muse: Exploring Emotion in Stories

    By: Keith Oatley

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    The emotions a character feels--Hamlets vengefulness when he realizes his uncle has killed his father, Anna Kareninas despair when she feels she can longer sustain her life, Marcels joy when he tastes a piece of madeleine cake--are vital aspects of the experience of fiction. As Keith Oatley points out, its not just the emotions of literary characters such as these in which we are interested. If we didnt ourselves experience emotions, we wouldnt 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 provides insight 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 the emotions of others and ourselves.

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