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date: 24 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Drawing on Ronald de Sousa’s account of emotional learning through paradigm scenarios, this article argues that literature is an important means through which we develop our conception of romantic love. Milan Kundera’s novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being serves as an example of a literary work that helps to shape our understanding of this kind of love. The narrator offers theoretical observations about love and its preconditions, but the novel also educates us about love through vignettes and scenarios that explore relationships between particular characters. Significantly, the imaginative, often metaphoric views that the characters have of themselves and other characters have a powerful impact on whether incipient romantic relationships proceed to flourish or to wither. The essay concludes with an analysis of the means through which fictional narratives educate us about romantic love, with illustrations from Kundera’s novel.

Keywords: aesthetic necessity, empathy, fungibility, metaphor, narrative, paradigm scenario, particularity, plot, self-conception, temporality

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