Sentimentality  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search
The Map of Tendre (Carte du Tendre) is a French map of an imaginary country called Tendre produced by several hands (including Catherine de Rambouillet). It appeared as an engraving (attributed to François Chauveau) in the first part of Madeleine de Scudéry's 1654-61 novel Clélie. It shows a geography entirely based around the theme of love according to the Précieuses of that era: the river of Inclination flows past the villages of "Billet Doux" (Love Letter), "Petits Soins" (Little Trinkets) and so forth.
Enlarge
The Map of Tendre (Carte du Tendre) is a French map of an imaginary country called Tendre produced by several hands (including Catherine de Rambouillet). It appeared as an engraving (attributed to François Chauveau) in the first part of Madeleine de Scudéry's 1654-61 novel Clélie. It shows a geography entirely based around the theme of love according to the Précieuses of that era: the river of Inclination flows past the villages of "Billet Doux" (Love Letter), "Petits Soins" (Little Trinkets) and so forth.

Related e

Google
Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Wiki Commons
Wikisource
YouTube
Shop


Featured:
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Enlarge
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Sentimentality is both a literary device used to induce a tender emotional response disproportionate to the situation, and thus to substitute heightened and generally uncritical feeling for normal ethical and intellectual judgments, and a heightened reader response willing to invest previously prepared emotions to respond disproportionately to a literary situation. "A sentimentalist", Oscar Wilde wrote Alfred Douglas, "is one who desires to have the luxury of an emotion without paying for it." Yeats wrote, "Rhetoric is fooling others. Sentimentality is fooling yourself."

Sentimental began to accrue negative connotations in the nineteenth century. Before that it had been an adjective denoting "feeling", as in The Man of Feeling (1771), Lawrence Sterne's Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy and Flaubert's Sentimental Education (1869).

Sentimentality applies feelings in inappropriate situations. The sentimental fallacy is an ancient rhetorical device that attributes human emotions to the forces of nature, such as mourning or anger.

Complications enter into the ordinary view of sentimentality when changes in fashion and setting— the "climate of thought" —intrude between the work and the reader. The view that sentimentality is relative is inherent in John Ciardi's "sympathetic contract", in which the reader agrees to join with the writer when approaching a poem. The example of the death of Little Nell in Charles Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop (1840-41), "a scene that for many readers today might represent a defining instance of sentimentality", brought tears to the eye of many highly critical readers of the day. The reader of Dickens, Richard Holt Hutton observed, "has the painful impression of pathos feasting upon itself."

Modern times

In modern times "sentimental" is a pejorative term that has been casually applied to works of art and literature that exceed the viewer or reader's sense of decorum—the extent of permissible emotion—and standards of taste: "excessiveness" is the criterion; "Meretricious" and "contrived" sham pathos are the hallmark of sentimentality, where the morality that underlies the work is both intrusive and pat.

'Sentimentality often involves situations which evoke very intense feelings: love affairs, childbirth, death', but where the feelings are expressed with 'reduced intensity and duration of emotional experience...diluted to a safe strength by idealisation and simplification'.

Nevertheless, as a social force sentimentality is a hardy perennial, appearing for example as 'Romantic sentimentality...in the 1960s slogans "flower power" and "make love not war"'. The 1990s public outpouring of grief at the death of Diana, 'when they go on about fake sentimentality in relation to Princess Diana', also raised issues about the 'powerful streak of sentimentality in the British character' - the extent to which 'sentimentality was a grand old national tradition'.

Baudrillard has cynically attacked the sentimentality of Western humanitarianism, suggesting that 'in the New Sentimental Order, the affluent become consumers of the "ever more delightful spectacle of poverty and catastrophe, and of the moving spectacle of our own attempts to alleviate it"'. There is also the issue of what has been called 'indecent sentimentality...[in] pornographical pseudo-classics', so that one might say for example that ' Fanny Hill is a very sentimental novel, a faked Eden'.

However in sociology it is possible to see the "sentimental tradition" as extending into the present-day - to see, for example, 'Parsons as one of the great social philosophers in the sentimental tradition of Adam Smith, Burke, McLuhan, and Goffman...concerned with the relation between the rational and sentimental bases of social order raised by the market reorientation of motivation'. Francis Fukuyama takes up the theme through the exploration of 'society's stock of shared values as social capital '.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Sentimentality" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools