Strange power of speech
Author(s)Jackson, Noel B.
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A friend in graduate school once told me that whenever she was particularly moved by a poem or novel she would hurl the book she was reading across the room. The most recent book to have met this fate was Charles Dickens's Hard Times. The culminating chapter of this volume ends, appropriately enough, with a thud: in the chapter entitled “Down”, Dickens brings the novel to its deepest point of crisis when Louisa collapses in a heap at the feet of her father, Thomas Gradgrind, who sees with horror “the pride of his heart and the triumph of his system, lying, an insensible heap, at his feet.” My friend's habit struck me as a bizarre way of responding to moments of terrific beauty in literary works of art. But hers is by no means the oddest account of the imagination's power to affect our minds and bodies.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Humanities. Literature Section
Jackson, Noel. “Strange power of speech.” The Lancet 374.9700 (2009): 1494-1495.