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date: 20 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter will examine Dickens’s engagement with, and depiction of, affects, emotions, feelings, and moods within the broader context of Victorian sentimentality. While affect is normally distinguished from emotion, with the former signalling an experience of bodily intensity beyond cognition, the two may not always be as clearly divided as this binary implies, seeping one into the other in their emphasis on embodied response. By bringing contemporary affect theory to a consideration of examples from Dickens’s writings, this chapter will trace the relation between the literary representation of affect and the affective responses of readers in order to argue that, to paraphrase Elizabeth Spelman, affect and emotion in Dickens provide powerful clues to the ways we are implicated in the lives of others and they in ours. In other words, feelings have an ethical dimension in the work of Dickens.

Keywords: affect, emotion, sentimentality, mood, feelings, ethics

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