By Patrick Colm Hogan
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Additional resources for Affective Narratology. The Emotional Structure of Stories
The target of Stiva’s smile is in part Dolly, suggesting his goodhearted friendliness. But the target is in part himself. Again, at this point, he is highly self-consciousness. With regard to himself, this smile suggests his sense of his own ludicrousness. He feels the smile to be “silly” because he feels himself to be silly. It may, then, be consistent with a sense of shame. Later in the novel, Tolstoy reports something of just this sort. Specifically, Levin smiles in such a way as to express the feeling that he is at once ridiculous and blameworthy: “Levin smiled at his own thoughts and shook his head at them disapprovingly; a feeling something like remorse tormented him” (581).
However, what is perhaps most striking about Stiva’s situation is that its emotional peaks are, for the most part, not large, rational, calculative, but small, immediate, spontaneous. The possibilities for large, interpretive plans guiding our emotional response to events has led many emotion theorists to explain emotion in terms of judgments about the relation between an occurrence or situation on the one hand, and our interests, needs, and desires on the other. At the same time, the possibilities for small, proximate occurrences to excite emotional responses has led other theorists to stress relatively mechanical and automatic processes.
Moreover, it is a theoretically opaque simplification since the notion of dialectic is an extra type of (indeed, a supernatural type of) causality in effect imposed upon the smaller, local, natural causes. In sum, ideology operates through the cognitive and affective structures and processes of the human mind, embedded in diverse networks. A set of ideas—for example, a story in a novel—may foster actions by its effects on inferential and motivational systems. Those actions may in turn be translated into justificatory criteria involving beliefs and goals.