Empathy and the Strangeness of Fiction: Readings in French Realism

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Explores how and why narrative fiction engages empathy, including Theory of Mind
  • Offers a broad overview of current scientific work on the effects of fiction-reading on empathy, including Theory of Mind
  • Provides an original intervention in the field of literary theory, centring on the reflexive properties of the fictional stranger
  • Includes stand-alone close readings of three novels by important French authors

This book takes its point of departure in recent psychological findings which suggest that reading fiction cultivates empathy, including Theory of Mind. Scott draws on literary theory and close readings to argue that engagement with fictional stories also teaches us to resist uncritical forms of empathy and reminds us of the limitations of our ability to understand other people. The book treats figures of the stranger in Balzac's La Fille aux yeux d'or , Stendhal's Le Rouge et le Noir and Sand's Indiana as emblematic of the strangeness of narrative fiction, which both draws us in and keeps us at a distance.

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Edinburgh University Press
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