The Logic of Sentiment

  • Bloomsbury Academic USA
  • 2020
  • 0
  • English
  • 1
  • 9781501357398

The Logic of Sentiment is a study of sentimentality, a literary mode that aims to answer the question, "What hold us together?" Against the grain of cultural studies, which understands sentimentality as consolidating communities on the basis of material or historical foundations, Kenneth Dauber takes a philosophical approach. He argues that sentimentality is love conceptualized in denial of a skepticism--understood as the problem of people's otherness to each other--that material associations cannot dispel. Through close readings in the style of "ordinary language" criticism, Dauber analyzes mid-19th-century American novels, where sentimentality achieved its most complete articulation, with a focus on three novels published nearly simultaneously–Uncle Tom's Cabin, The House of the Seven Gables, and Pierre. Referencing a wide range of philosophical and literary texts, Dauber examines the response of sentimental writers to their growing awareness of love's lack of foundation, the waywardness with which individuals dispose themselves as they succeed and fail in achieving a viable "we." The Logic of Sentiment traces the movement from sentimentality to realism, the relation between epistemology and ethics, and the kind of investments that writers attempt to solicit from their readers.