Strout's Emotionism in Fiction

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I found this post online -- a review of Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout"s novel, by Rebecca Wells Jopling

Jopling expresses the incredible way Strout using emotion to develop and portray her characters. In her review, Jopling deftly reveals how Strout gets down to the nitty gritty of emotion and the way it plays with ideas and thoughts in our lives. She is spot-on and comments on Strout's creative writing in dealing with self-discovery, personal issues, and narrative perspective. Perfect issues for a lively book discussion!

In an interview with Tom Ashbrook, host of NPR’s “On Point,” Strout expressed herself quite passionately on how emotions are distorted from our earliest years:

I think that from a very young age, we are taught to use language in a distorted way, and therefore our feelings are distorted. For example, if a little child says, in anger or frustration, “I hate my brother!” then of course the mother says, “You do not hate your brother.” And I’m not saying that she shouldn’t be admonishing the child. We are trying to live in a civilized way. But what I am saying is that this happens again and again, for years and years and years, until our feelings that we have expressed at a young age in their most primitive form, they have been retaught...and I think what happens is that we end up not really knowing what we feel sometimes, and not really knowing our emotions, and therefore not being able to be fully compassionate to somebody else, because if we don’t know what we’re feeling, then we’re going to have trouble knowing what somebody else is feeling. So I really do think that we go to fiction or poetry or literature to find that sentence that’s either muscular enough or felicitous enough to return us to the truthfulness and clarity of what we did once know about human emotions in ourselves and then in other people.

Please read this fascinating and intriguing review.

Taken from On Fiction

OnFiction is a magazine with the aim of developing the psychology of fiction. Using theoretical and empirical perspectives, the writers endeavour to understand how fiction is created, and how readers and audience members engage in it.

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