Monday, March 3, 2008

The Tempest in the Heart

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin is one of my daily blog stops. Today's focus on sentimentality--and quote from Robertson Davies-- is worth repeating. Bold sentences are my favorite:
People who prate of sentimentality are very often people who hate being made to feel, and who hate anything that cannot be intellectually manipulated. But the purgation through pity and terror which is said to be the effect of tragedy is not the only kind of purgation that art can bring. The tempest in the heart that great novels can evoke is rarely tragic in the strict sense, but it is an arousal of feelings of wonder at the strangeness of life, and desolation at the implacability of life, and dread of the capriciousness of life which for a few minutes overwhelms all our calculations and certainties and leaves us naked in a turmoil from which cleverness cannot save us. Sentimentality is sometimes used by critics as a term to rebuke artists who seeks to sound this terrifying note; if the artist fails, he is probably merely sentimental, but if he succeeds, the critic would be wise to slink back into his kennel and whimper till the storm passes.
--Robertson Davies

Sentimentality's evil polar opposite is cynicism. As an occasional book reviewer (a.k.a "critic") as well as novelist, I've been both judge and judged. It helps to remember "the tempest in the heart" is sacred.

Tomorrow: Three books I read last week...

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