Chapter 5. Emotion and the Understanding of Narrative

  1. Garry L. Hagberg Chair2 and
  2. Walter Jost Professor of English3
  1. Jenefer Robinson Professor of Philosophy

Published Online: 17 DEC 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444315592.ch5

A Companion to the Philosophy of Literature

A Companion to the Philosophy of Literature

How to Cite

Robinson, J. (2010) Emotion and the Understanding of Narrative, in A Companion to the Philosophy of Literature (eds G. L. Hagberg and W. Jost), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444315592.ch5

Editor Information

  1. 2

    University of East Anglia, UK

  2. 3

    University of Virginia, USA

Author Information

  1. University of Cincinnati, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 17 DEC 2009
  2. Published Print: 15 JAN 2010

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405141703

Online ISBN: 9781444315592



  • emotion and understanding of narrative;
  • emotions aroused by reading of novels - essential, to proper understanding of novel;
  • emotional involvement;
  • emotional responses in situations - what is deemed to be at stake, goals, interests, and wants of mine;
  • emotions, special devices for processing information;
  • cognitive monitoring initial affective appraisal - affecting physiological responses;
  • processing a narrative - text is always and necessarily full of gaps;
  • interpretation as reflection on emotional responses to a text;
  • First objection: lots of novels don't require emotional involvement;
  • “Cognitive” ingenuity, more prized than emotional insight


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • How to Read a Story

  • What is Emotional Involvement?

  • Processing a Narrative

  • Interpretation as Reflection on Emotional Responses to a Text

  • Why Be Emotionally Involved?

  • Objections