The Emotional Structure of Stories
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: University of Nebraska Press
Series: Frontiers of Narrative
Table of Contents
An earlier version of the discussion of The Injustice Done to Tou Ngo was published as "Narrative Universals, National Sacrifice, and Dou E Yuan" in Ex/Change (Hong Kong) 12 (2005): 18--25. I am grateful to the editor, Zhang Longxi, for very helpful comments and suggestions on an earlier...
Introduction: A Passion for Plot
Human beings have a passion for plots. Stories are shared in every society, in every age, and in every social context, from intimate personal interactions to impersonal social gatherings. This passion for plots is bound up with the passion of plots, the ways in which stories manifest feelings on the part of authors and characters, as well as the passion from...
1. Before Stories: Emotional Time and Anna Karenina
Anna Karenina begins with a rift in a family.1 Dolly Oblonsky has discovered that her husband has been having an affair. One morning, a few days after the initial quarrel, Stiva Oblonsky, the husband, wakes up alone in his study. For a moment, he does not remember the rift, or even his own precise location in the home. For a moment he is content, tacitly...
2. Stories and Works: From Ancient Egypt to Postmodernism
We have considered the elementary units of temporal experience (incidents), their derivation from our emotion systems, their concatenation into larger units (events), and the elaboration of these larger units into complexes (episodes). But clearly that is not the end of the story. In fact, it is not the story at all. In all these cases, we are still dealing with "substory"...
3. Universal Narrative Prototypes: Sacrifice, Heroism, and Romantic Love
A basic structure for stories begins with fragile or temporary aspect normalcy disrupted by some precipitating event or change in conditions, leading to goal pursuit. The goal pursuit constitutes the bulk of the story. It is obstructed by sometimes severe difficulties, but often still leads to achievement of the goal and a return to normalcy, now with the relevant...
4. Cross-Cultural Minor Genres: Attachment, Lust, Revenge, and Criminal Justice
Prototypical stories are cross-culturally widespread and generally prominent. They appear to define the dominant genres in the canons of all large written traditions. This is not to say, however, that all individual, canonical stories (not to mention all stories more broadly) fall into these genres--far...
Afterword: Stories and the Training of Sensibility
In the previous chapters, we considered the ways in which emotions (or emotion systems) make stories. We examined the ways in which incidents, events, episodes, general story structures, works, and genres are a function of emotional processes. But if stories and emotions are so closely...