Emotions through Literature: Fictional Narratives, Society and the Emotional Self, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Emotions through Literature

Fictional Narratives, Society and the Emotional Self, 1st Edition

By Mariano Longo


240 pages

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Hardback: 9780415793384
pub: 2019-08-15
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Engaging with the wide sociological literature on emotions, this book explores the social representation of emotions, their management and their effects by making reference to creative sources. With a specific focus on literary narrative, including the works of figures such as Dante, Austen, Manzoni and Tolstoy and Kundera, the author draws out the capacity of literary works to describe and represent both the external aspects of social relations and the inner motivations of the involved actors. An interdisciplinary study that combines sociology, narratology, philosophy, historical analysis and literary criticism, Emotions through Literature invites us to re-think the role of emotions in sociological analysis, employing literary narratives to give plausible intellectual responses to the double nature of emotions, their being both individual and sociale.


"Mariano Longo has brought the sociology of emotions vividly alive in this sharp and penetrating analysis, skilfully incorporating portrayals of a wide range of people and passions figuring in literature from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina to Roth’s Seymoure Levov. Longo covers his field in a masterly way, showing how emotions, initially present in nineteenth-century sociology, then pushed aside to make way for relentless rationality, finally returned in a big way during the late 1970s. The exciting prospects opened up by focusing on emotions are triangulated by drawing on the perceptive insights of experts such as Norbert Elias, William Reddy, Peter Stearns, Susan Matt, Richard Moran, Dorrit Cohn, Donald Weslig, Arlie Hochschild, and Sandra Logan. Longo moves expertly between smart generalizations on modernity, consumerism, the neurosciences, collective behaviour, social change, love, and crowd behaviour to detailed dissections of specific works by Dante, Shakespeare, Dickens, Zola, Manzoni and many others. There is rich sustenance here. It will stimulate beginners and challenge specialists." - Dennis Smith, author of ‘Civilized Rebels: An Inside Story of the West's Retreat from Global Power’, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Loughborough University, UK

"Because novels and poems name the emotions, putting them into narrative action, literature has always been the home territory of emotion. Now, venturing all the way across the bridge to verbal art from his own discipline of sociology, Mariano Longo shows that a major future assignment of this crossover field will be to specify with stronger theories how emotions are always relationships: social between persons, changeable in historical time. First he offers a critique of the history of sociology, where from circa 1900 to 2019 there has been a steadily growing acceptance that emotions have a rational, historical explanation as part of social change. Next he analyzes a broad international range of literary works to account for the mass-emotion of crowds, the effect of envy on economics and class-relations between the eras of Shakespeare and Trollope, and changes in love (and theories of love) from the Middle Ages to now. Longo doesn't come forward as a literary critic, but he has many habits of attention congenial to the works of imagination under study: he finds crucial turning-point passages to quote, he quotes at sufficient length to exhibit style, and he brings in already-existing literary criticism relevant to the purposes of his innovative theory. So in this well-argued essay, packed with persuasive literary examples, Mariano Longo significantly extends and complicates the sociology of emotions, and of research in emotions generally." - Donald Wesling, Professor Emeritus of English Literature, University of California, San Diego, USA; author of Joys and Sorrows of Imaginary Persons (On Literary Emotions)

"This book represents a very important contribution to the sociology and to the history of emotions and argues that much of our emotions are embedded in micro narrative forms and cultural scripts. But the book does much more than this: it uses literature as the terrain par excellence for the expression of psychological selves and their emotions. This is a new and important approach to the sociology of emotions." - Eva Illouz, The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel, and École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris

Table of Contents

1. By Way of Introduction. A Sociology of Emotions through Literature

2. Sociology and Emotions. An Overview

3. Emotions and their History. A Sociological Perspective

4. Emotions and Literature

5. Action, Emotions and Emotional Control. A Reading of Philip Roth’s American Pastoral

6. The Emotional Crowd

7. Envy, Social Order and Social Change

8. Of Love, its Semantic and its Social Function


About the Author

Mariano Longo is Full Professor of Sociology at the University of Salento, Italy, and author of Fiction and Social Reality: Literature and Narratives as Sociological Resources.

About the Series

Classical and Contemporary Social Theory

Classical and Contemporary Social Theory
Classical and Contemporary Social Theory publishes rigorous scholarly work that re-discovers the relevance of social theory for contemporary times, demonstrating the enduring importance of theory for modern social issues. The series covers social theory in a broad sense, inviting contributions on both 'classical' and modern theory, thus encompassing sociology, without being confined to a single discipline. As such, work from across the social sciences is welcome, provided that volumes address the social context of particular issues, subjects, or figures and offer new understandings of social reality and the contribution of a theorist or school to our understanding of it. The series considers significant new appraisals of established thinkers or schools, comparative works or contributions that discuss a particular social issue or phenomenon in relation to the work of specific theorists or theoretical approaches. Contributions are welcome that assess broad strands of thought within certain schools or across the work of a number of thinkers, but always with an eye toward contributing to contemporary understandings of social issues and contexts.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General