Abstract

Taking Heinrich von Kleist's 1808 novella "The Marquise of O" as a case study, the essay argues that cognitive and affective--i.e., bodily--responses to literature heavily constrain the range of interpretations that, based on the text alone, ought to be available to readers. Thus the near-unanimous understanding of the central conundrum of the novella is not due to an evaluation of evidence, but thanks to certain bodily investments that are largely immune to modification by rational means. The essay argues that the scene of rape imagined by the reader is so affectively charged that in effect it forecloses interpretive paths opened by a formal reading.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6636
Print ISSN
0893-5378
Pages
pp. 51-81
Launched on MUSE
2004-04-08
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Ceased Publication
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