In a message dated 3/6/2002 2:36:46 AM Eastern Standard Time,
> But you've just described the process of doing precisely that -- the process
> by which YOU (not remote, distanced literary creations) acquire primary
> experience by reading the text.
O.K., we're talking about two different things here, both of which can be
described in some sense as "inserting oneself in the story." One of them is
the sense which you mean, Susan, when one experiences the emotions and
thought processes of a character when one reads a story. The other is when a
reader demands that there be a character like themself in the story and thus
finds it impossible to enjoy stories that don't have any such character.
This sort of reader is more likely to want to write a piece of fan fiction in
which they have inserted themself as a character.
We assumed that you meant this second sense when you began talking about this
issue. As we have indicated, many of us would never "insert themself into
the story" in the second sense. I don't think we have any objection to
"inserting oneself into the story" in the first sense of the term, though.
In the last chapter of C. S. Lewis's _An Experiment in Criticism_, he talks
about this issue:
[Speaking about why we read fiction] "The nearest that I have yet got to an
answer is that we seek an enlargement of our being. We want to be more than
ourselves. Each of us by nature sees the whole world from one point of view
with a perspective and a selectiveness peculiar to himself. And even when we
build disinterested fantasies, they are saturated with, and limited by, our
own psychology. To acquiesce in this particularity on the sensuous level -
in other words, not to discount perspective - would be lunacy. We should
then believe that the railway line really grew narrower as it receded into
the distance. But we want to escape the illusions of perspective on a higher
levels too. We want to see with other eyes, to imagine with other
imaginations, to feel with other hearts, as well as with our own." [Oh,
heck, read the book. I can't quote enough to give you the full flavor of
Incidentally, I once asked Joe Christopher if Lewis ever really said anything
like "We read to know that we are not alone," which the character of Lewis in
the movie _Shadowlands_ says several times. He said that he couldn't recall
any such quote, but it seems to be a paraphrase (a rather simplistic
paraphrase, I think) of the sentences from _An Experiment in Criticism_ I
have quoted above.
I think that there are people who "insert themself into the story" in both
the first and second senses when they watch films too.
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