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DUALISMS: THE AGONS OF THE MODERN WORLD

DUALISMS: THE AGONS OF THE MODERN WORLD COMPARATIVE LITERATURE / 90 him. The complexity of the issues at stake becomes clear in the first two chapters of Robinson’s book: “Tolstoy’s Infection” and “Tolstoy’s Estrangement,” which concerns his reactions to life and society. Alienation, in both the general and clinical senses, lies just around the verbal corner from estrangement. If we shift over into psychology, we encounter words such as depersonalization, abjection, and anomie. Tolstoy’s What Is Art? treats the opposite danger: that of being infected with feelings that make one part of a hypocritical community of immorality. His infection theory opens a path back, via “empathy” and eighteenthcentury “sympathy,” to Plato’s strictures about the emotional contagion of art. Tolstoy says that art rarely serves its true function — to prompt simple feelings connected with joy and social integration. His emphasis on moral guidance in art connects him with Aristotle’s remark that we learn our earliest lessons through imitation. Given the contagious transmission of feeling through art, and the idea that learning occurs through imitative behavior, we are led by Robinson to think about socialization itself. Empathy and estrangement are forces that either connect or shatter lives, communities, nations, and literary audiences. Robinson provides brief explanations http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Comparative Literature Duke University Press

DUALISMS: THE AGONS OF THE MODERN WORLD

Comparative Literature , Volume 62 (1) – Jan 1, 2010

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2010 by University of Oregon
ISSN
0010-4124
eISSN
1945-8517
DOI
10.1215/00104124-2009-037
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

COMPARATIVE LITERATURE / 90 him. The complexity of the issues at stake becomes clear in the first two chapters of Robinson’s book: “Tolstoy’s Infection” and “Tolstoy’s Estrangement,” which concerns his reactions to life and society. Alienation, in both the general and clinical senses, lies just around the verbal corner from estrangement. If we shift over into psychology, we encounter words such as depersonalization, abjection, and anomie. Tolstoy’s What Is Art? treats the opposite danger: that of being infected with feelings that make one part of a hypocritical community of immorality. His infection theory opens a path back, via “empathy” and eighteenthcentury “sympathy,” to Plato’s strictures about the emotional contagion of art. Tolstoy says that art rarely serves its true function — to prompt simple feelings connected with joy and social integration. His emphasis on moral guidance in art connects him with Aristotle’s remark that we learn our earliest lessons through imitation. Given the contagious transmission of feeling through art, and the idea that learning occurs through imitative behavior, we are led by Robinson to think about socialization itself. Empathy and estrangement are forces that either connect or shatter lives, communities, nations, and literary audiences. Robinson provides brief explanations

Journal

Comparative LiteratureDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2010

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