How novels feel

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This chapter investigates the depiction of cognitive processes within two “autofictional” novels, Serge Doubrovsky’s Fils and David Williams’s Eye of the Father. Both works feature literary scholars as the main protagonists, who recognize their own emotional predicament through their emotional and rational interpretations of literature. These texts speak in interesting ways to – and challenge – recent work in cognitive poetics, raising the question whether rational or emotional reading processes trigger epiphanies. Both novels suggest that the two different literary responses are interdependent, thus rendering suspect the possibility of purely rational, objective approaches to literature. Reading the novels at the nexus of emotion, “autofiction”, and interpretation, we argue that literary scholarship needs to account for emotional-subjective and rational-objective approaches.


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