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Publisher's Summary

Why We Read Fiction offers a lucid overview of the most exciting area of research in contemporary cognitive psychology known as “Theory of Mind” and discusses its implications for literary studies. It covers a broad range of fictional narratives, from Richardson's Clarissa, Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, and Austen's Pride and Prejudice to Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, Nabokov's Lolita, and Hammett's The Maltese Falcon.

Zunshine's surprising new interpretations of well-known literary texts and popular cultural representations constantly prod her listeners to rethink their own interest in fictional narrative. Written for a general audience, this study provides a jargon-free introduction to the rapidly growing interdisciplinary field known as cognitive approaches to literature and culture.

The book is published by The Ohio State University Press.

©2006 The Ohio State University (P)2013 Redwood Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

“Zunshine proved beyond doubt that even the more conservative literary student who just wants a better reading or understanding of a specific novel stands to gain considerably by adopting the cognitive outlook and vocabulary she suggests.” (Uri Margolin, University of Alberta)

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  • Matt
  • Tampa, Florida, United States
  • 11-11-13

Theory of the Reader

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Not really. I was looking forward to learning about theory of mind, particulary as it relates to fiction, but the presentation of the book was so monotone, and so clinical in its delivery, that I frequently lost interest in the direction it was moving. Ironically, you would think a book about deciphering what another person is thinking/perceiving would do a better job of reaching out to the reader.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Classic in the 'cognitive turn' in the humanities

If you could sum up Why We Read Fiction: Theory of Mind and the Novel in three words, what would they be?

This book explains why we can read fictional minds in a similar way that we can read real minds.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Why We Read Fiction: Theory of Mind and the Novel?

I think the reading of Samuel Richardson's "Clarissa" is the best section.

Which character – as performed by Rosemary Benson – was your favorite?

It is a work of nonfiction, so this question is not applicable.

If you could rename Why We Read Fiction: Theory of Mind and the Novel, what would you call it?

I think the title is pretty good. I wouldn't change it.

Any additional comments?

If you ever wondered what cognitive science has to say about literary criticism, this book is a great place to start. I think it helps if you have read the texts discussed -- Richardson's "Clarissa" and Nabokov's "Lolita" would be particularly helpful, but you can follow along even if you have not read these novels. She also discusses theory of mind in detective fiction. You can also buy the ebook on Amazon for $1.99, I think, if you like to follow along while you are listening. This is a really fascinanating subject and I know this title is very influential in the field of narratology.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Interesting text, robotic delivery

How could the performance have been better?

The delivery is very odd and robotic, and I wonder if "Rosemary Benson" is a computerized voice. The inflection is strange and at times the ends of words are cut off so cleanly, it does not sound like a human voice. The narration is distracting.

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cognitive snob

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

the topic.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Why We Read Fiction: Theory of Mind and the Novel?

i am interested in pursuing this topic.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Yes! not the correct intonations for nonfictions. Too dramatic, this is nonfiction and requires a more formal tone.It made me cringe because the performance distracted from the content and the vocabulary distracted from the purpose.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Any additional comments?

Tone down the need to be so....verbose. it produces a very heavy style. And because the vocabulary is not conducive to cognition I would surmise that this book is written to a very select audience and is more pedagogical erring on the side of being ostentatious. Although I found the topic interesting but the lack of plain speaking is distracting. Quoting Matthew Arnold," Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can.'

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Aggie
  • 05-05-13

Automated voice?

This is read so badly as to be unlistenable. There should be a warning attached to the preview

1 of 1 people found this review helpful