“Silent Snow, Secret Snow,” Conrad Aiken

 

Aiken, Conrad. “Silent Snow, Secret Snow” (1934)

In The World Within: Fiction Illuminating Neuroses of Our Time
Edited by Mary Louise Aswell
Notes and Introduction by Frederic Wertham, M.D.
New York: Whittlesey House, 1947

Related Post:

 

Cover: The World WithinI remember discovering this story in an anthology of American short stories back in high school. I found it absolutely chilling back then, and it hasn’t lost any of its power over the years. The story is widely anthologized, especially in collections of American short stories, so you should be able to find it with a bit of searching. Or you can look for The Collected Short Stories of Conrad Aiken, which is more difficult to find. This link will take you to Google Books, where you can search for the book in a library near you.

 

How does an author write about something “which could not easily (if at all) be spoken of” (p. 244)? In this story Conrad Aiken literarily presents the process by which 12-year-old Paul Hasleman loses touch with reality and slips into a world of delusion. The delusion begins with Paul’s belief that snow has fallen outside and is muffling the postman’s footsteps, but when he looks outside, he sees bright sun and no snow on the street. Yet in his mind Paul sees snow: “this was distinctly pleasant, and came almost of its own accord” (p. 239). Paul instinctively knows that he must keep his vision of snow a secret from his parents, his schoolmates, and the family doctor whom his parents finally call in because Paul seems distracted and engages in extensive daydreaming.

Paul initially thinks of his secret as a treasure that he alone possesses. The secrecy gives his treasure a sense of deliciousness. The secret also gives him a sense of protection from the rest of the world. Soon Paul begins to recognize that he has “another and quite separate existence” (p. 243) from the world of his home and school. He differentiates between “the public life and the life that was secret” (p. 245) and recognizes “the increasing difficulty of the daily return to daily life” (p. 247).

Aiken was an accomplished poet, and in this story he uses poetic devices to portray Paul’s increasing alienation from reality. He uses visual imagery to demonstrate what Paul sees: “The little spiral was still there, still softly whirling, like the ghost of a white kitten chasing the ghost of a white tail, and making as it did so the faintest of whispers” (p. 256). Aiken also uses sound imagery; the heavy, recurring sibilance (s sound) throughout the story echoes what Paul hears. Here, for example, Paul is distracted while the doctor is examining him:

Even here, even amongst these hostile presences, and in this arranged light, he could see the snow, he could hear it—it was in the corners of the room, where the shadow was deepest, under the sofa, behind the half-opened door which led to the dining room. It was gentler here, softer, its seethe the quietest of whispers, as if, in deference to a drawing room, it had quite deliberately put on its “manners”; it kept itself out of sight, obliterated itself, but distinctly with an air of saying, “Ah, but just wait! Wait till we are alone together! Then I will begin to tell you something new! Something white! something cold! something sleepy! Something of cease, and peace, and the long bright curve of space! Tell them to go away. Banish them. Refuse to speak.” (p. 254)

The snowstorm that begins so seductively in Paul’s head turns savage by the story’s end:

The darkness was coming in long white waves. A prolonged sibilance filled the night—a great seamless seethe of wild influence went abruptly across it—a cold low humming shook the windows. He shut the door and flung off his clothes in the dark. The bare black floor was like a little raft tossed in waves of snow, almost overwhelmed, washed under whitely, up again, smothered in curled billows of feather. The snow was laughing: it spoke from all sides at once: it pressed closer to him as he ran and jumped exulting into his bed. (p. 258)

The oxymoron (seeming contradiction) of darkness coming in white waves emphasizes the break from reality as Paul listens to the snowstorm and his mind closes inward upon itself:

“Listen!” it said. “We’ll tell you the last, the most beautiful and secret story—shut your eyes—it is a very small story—a story that gets smaller and smaller—it comes inward instead of opening like a flower—it is a flower becoming a seed—a little cold seed—do you hear? we are leaning closer to you—“ (p. 259)

In her introduction to “Silent Snow, Secret Snow,” literary editor Aswell describes Aiken (1889-1973) as “one of the writers whose work first showed the specific influence of Freud” (p. 237). But readers need not know details of Freud’s theories to recognize the significance of Paul’s experience as Aiken portrays it. As psychiatrist Wertham says in his closing notes on the story, “The description is the better since it is free from cliches of symptoms” (p. 260).

© 2014 by Mary Daniels Brown

“The World Within”: Introduction

 

The World Within: Fiction Illuminating Neuroses of Our Time

Edited by Mary Louise Aswell
Notes and Introduction by Frederic Wertham, M.D.
New York: Whittlesey House, 1947

Cover: The World Within

 

The World Within was one of the first literary collections assembled to spotlight a psychological approach to literature. It couples a literary editor’s introductory remarks with analysis by a psychiatrist.

The literary editor was Mary Louise Aswell (1902-1984), a novelist and editor for Atlantic Monthly, Reader’s Digest, and Harper’s Bazaar. In her foreword to The World Within, which she titled “The Wing of Madness,” Aswell wrote that writer Sherwood Anderson had written in his notebook, ”When I had been working well, there was a kind of insanity of consciousness.” Aswell continued, “Anderson was one of the first generation of writers to be profoundly influenced by the great explorer of man’s consciousness, Sigmund Freud. But the source of his genius, like that of the far greater writers who precede and follow him, was his intuitive insight, as Freud would have been the first to acknowledge” (p. viii). About a writer working at the time when The World Within was published, she said, “As part of his cultural heritage he has the work of Kafka, Joyce, Proust; of D.H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, Thomas Mann and the writers of their generation who first interpreted Freud’s revolutionary concepts in the universal, human terms of art” (p.viii).

Frederic Wertham, M.D., (1895-1981) provided the psychiatric analysis for The World Within. He was born in Nuremberg, Germany, then studied medicine and literature at King’s College, London University, before and during the first world war. In England he became interested in Charles Dickens’s writings on social reform. After the war he received his medical degree from the University of Wurzburg in 1921 and conducted postgraduate study in Paris, Vienna, and Munich. In 1922 Wertham left Germany to work with Alfred Meyer at the Phipps Psychiatric Clinic at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He became an expert in forensic psychiatry and believed that the environment shapes individual human responses. In 1932 he moved to New York City, where he studied the effects of segregation on the lives of African American children.

Wertham studied psychiatry during the period when Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), a medical doctor, was developing the theories and method of psychoanalysis for the treatment of psychopathology. This same time period saw the beginning of the development of psychiatry as a scientific medical discipline. Freud’s theories came to dominate the field, and for Wertham psychoanalysis was synonymous with psychiatry. In his introduction to The World Within Werthem wrote that after World War I “Freud’s psychoanalysis gained a foothold with a wider audience both inside and outside the psychiatric profession. Freud’s knowledge of literature was prodigious. He explored not only the meanings hidden in the acts of persons but also those in the printed pages of books from the Greek classics to Dostoevsky. He was like an archaeologist who discovers the intact relics of an old bridge, a bridge built of myths and dreams. For the content of every neurosis is an individual myth. No wonder that this kind of psychiatry had in turn the greatest influence on literature” (p. xv). For this reason Wertham’s terminology seems strange to readers of today, for whom psychiatry usually means the use of drugs to treat mental illness.

Wertham also wrote in his introduction “Since ancient times the relationships between psychiatry and literature have been intimate and manifold, although up to the present they have remained largely unformulated” (p. xii). For him, historical myths and legends, such as ancient Greek mythology, represented timeless psychological truths that contemporary psychiatry was particularly suited to formulate: “What brings the science of psychiatry in the psychoanalytic era into such close and fruitful relationship with the art of literature is that psychoanalysis is analysis of a special kind. It does not delve into the mind to isolate disparate elements. Psychoanalysis always aims to relate the detail, the symbol, to the living organism as a whole. It is here that the research of the scientist and the search of the artist find a common ground. Great writers know how to give a unified picture of a whole personality through minute observation of a meaningful expression, a characteristic mannerism, or an unconscious habit” (p. xvi).

The World Within reflects the cultural world view of the time when it was published, a philosophical belief in the absurdity and meaninglessness of the world that had been nurtured by two world wars. Aswell called the time “this age of freedom from certainty” (p. vii). Americans know this attitude best from Holden Caulfield, the protagonist of J.D. Salinger’s 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye. The literary works of Søren Kierkegaard, Samuel Beckett, Franz Kafka, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Eugène Ionesco, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Albert Camus reflect a similar philosophy. Wertham referred to this time period in psychoanalytic terms: “The social crisis of our time has a close similarity to the emotional state in a neurosis: it is a want in the face of plenty. False ideals are instilled in people: for men, to produce and sell; for women, to reproduce and buy. Against this propaganda promoted by all the mass methods of modern communication, psychiatry and literature uphold the dignity of the individual in a changing world” (p. xxiv). His reference to changing gender roles as “false ideals” foreshadows The Second Sex (published in French in 1949 and in English translation in 1953) by French woman Simone de Beauvoir.

Wertham looked to literature for expressions of societal ills that needed treatment: “Literature is always—directly or indirectly, positively or negatively—a reflection of the deepest conflicts in the real life of the period” (p. xx). But he also looked to literature as a means of treating those ills, since it is in “the struggle on the frontiers of imagination where the progress of society takes place” (p. xxiv).

 

The World Within includes the following works:

  • “The Story of Serapion,” E.T.A. Hoffman
  • Notes from Underground (excerpt), Feodor Dostoevsky
  • “The Beast in the Jungle,” Henry James
  • “The Orchid and the Bee” (from Cities of the Plain), Marcel Proust
  • “Metamorphosis,” Franz Kafka
  • “Silent Snow, Secret Snow,” Conrad Aiken
  • “The Door,” E.B. White
  • “I Am Lazarus,” Anna Kavan
  • “The Headless Hawk,” Truman Capote
  • “Caput Mortuum,” Edita Morris
  • “The Fury,” Robert M. Coates
  • “Mrs. Razor,” James Still
  • “Why I Live at the P.O.,” Eudora Welty
  • “Percy Grimm” (from Light in August), William Faulkner

From time to time I will report here on one of these works.

Do Books with Anthropomorphic Animals Hinder Children’s Learning about Nature?

 

There’s been a lot in the news lately about a study suggesting that children do not gain accurate knowledge of the natural world by reading stories with human-like animals.

Dr. Patricia A. Ganea, of the psychology department at the University of Toronto, and colleagues examined how books that present animals with human characteristics (that is, animals that talk and think like humans) affect children’s learning about the natural world. Here’s the abstract of the research report published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology:

Do cavies talk?: The effect of anthropomorphic books on children’s knowledge about animals

Many books for young children present animals in fantastical and unrealistic ways, as wearing clothes, talking and engaging in human-like activities. This research examined whether anthropomorphism in children’s books affects children’s learning and conceptions of animals, by specifically assessing the impact of depictions (a bird wearing clothes and reading a book) and language (bird described as talking and as having human intentions). In Study 1, 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old children saw picture books featuring realistic drawings of a novel animal. Half of the children also heard factual, realistic language, while the other half heard anthropomorphized language. In Study 2, we replicated the first study using anthropomorphic illustrations of real animals. The results show that the language used to describe animals in books has an effect on children’s tendency to attribute human-like traits to animals, and that anthropomorphic storybooks affect younger children’s learning of novel facts about animals. These results indicate that anthropomorphized animals in books may not only lead to less learning but also influence children’s conceptual knowledge of animals.

A release from the University of Toronto added:

“Books that portray animals realistically lead to more learning and more accurate biological understanding,” says lead author Patricia Ganea, Assistant Professor with the University of Toronto’s Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development. “We were surprised to find that even the older children in our study were sensitive to the anthropocentric portrayals of animals in the books and attributed more human characteristics to animals after being exposed to fantastical books than after being exposed to realistic books.”

Publication of this research has sparked some heated negative responses. In The Telegraph (a newspaper from the U. K.), mother Becky Pugh wrote “Don’t tell me talking animals like Peppa Pig are bad for my kids“:

Indeed, most of our furry humanoid favourites have wisdom to impart – even if their portrayal of the natural world isn’t always accurate. Rupert Bear encourages an adventurous spirit. Winnie the Pooh represents thoughtfulness, humility and companionship. Babar champions deference and respect for your elders. Paddington endorses courage and independence.

Katy Waldman, an assistant editor at Slate, entitled her article “Researchers Want Children’s Books to Stop Anthropomorphizing Animals. That’s a Terrible Idea.” Waldman insists:

Scaffolding familiar traits onto alien subjects is a powerful way to promote learning, one that children do naturally from the age of 12 to 24 months. And imaginative play—the type where you pretend a badger gets jealous of her baby sister—has cognitive benefits: “If you want your children to be intelligent,” Albert Einstein once said, “read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” Just as important, anthropomorphizing is a type of metaphor-making that allows kids to both identify with the characters they’re reading about (so that they more readily apply the text’s lessons to their own life, as in an Aesop’s fable) and practice acknowledging outside perspectives. Reading literature fosters empathy, found two separate studies, one at the New School and one in the Netherlands, and it does so by awakening people to the echoes of themselves in others.

Ganea addressed all the negative publicity in an interview with Cathy Newman for National Geographic:

Your work seems to have struck a negative nerve. “Stop reading Jungle Book and Winnie The Pooh as it ‘humanises animals’, parents told,” was one headline I saw in the London Daily Express. There were others.

People have gone crazy out there. They think we are saying, don’t read books that interweave fantasy with reality. That’s not the message from this. It’s if you want your children to learn more facts about animals, it would be better to use books that are more realistic. Of course parents should read a variety of books to their children. Fantasy is important for their imagination and their cognitive development.

Ganea said that she enjoyed Winnie the Pooh with her own children. “But we also read expository books about animals.”

Other people have been more receptive to Ganea’s message. In the Canadian paper The Globe and Mail, parent Tralee Pearce wrote, “Why you may want to stop reading bedtime stories with cartoony, human-like animals.” She acknowledged that she “may consider adding in a hard-core nature book or two” to her children’s reading list:

This might be even more crucial to consider, as another study found that the use of the outdoors and animals in children’s literature has been on the decline since the 1970s; as more kids are raised in urban landscapes, their books come to reflect that reality.

Maybe this is all a (sad) reflection of our general disengagement with the natural world – and a reminder to parents and educators to sneak in some information about real animals into story time at home and school.

And on the Scientific American blog “The Thoughtful Animal,” developmental psychologist Dr. Jason G. Goldman titled his post “When Animals Act Like People in Stories, Kids Can’t Learn.” Goldman wrote:

The problem is actually more pervasive than it sounds: human adults, at least in the US, are also highly likely to imbue non-human animals with human-like emotions and motivations. It’s a tricky line to navigate. Research is increasingly revealing the fundamental similarities between our species and the rest of the animal kingdom, but there are also aspects of human culture that are, indeed, unique to our species. Is it reasonable to suggest that an animal can feel something complex like pride or embarrassment? We are poised to attribute a similarly complex emotion, guilt, to dogs, but a deeper look reveals that while dogs indeed have a “guilty look,” they probably do not actually realize that they’ve transgressed. If children are routinely exposed to these sorts of anthropomorphic representations of animals, it is no wonder that they grow up to become adults who look at non-human animals as if they are people wearing animal suits.

He added that this research “presents an opportunity for parents and teachers to carefully select books that do accurately reflect the natural world, both visually and linguistically.” And he concluded that books representing the worlds of both fantasy and reality can co-exist. “Maybe let’s just keep them on different shelves?”

“Breaking Bad” and the Willful Suspension of Disbelief

 

We know that time travel is impossible. Yet when we pick up Octavia Butler’s Kindred or Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, we don’t stop reading when we see characters moving through time. No, we accept that the story the author wants to tell requires time travel, and we allow it to exist in the world of the story.

Contemporary cognitive scientists and cultural anthropologists tell us that our brain is wired to accept and understand stories because storytelling is the primary method by which a society communicates its history, beliefs, and values. (See, for example, The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human by Jonathan Gottschall.) But poet and philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge recognized our proclivity for making allowances in the world of stories back in 1817. He coined a term for the phenomenon: the willing suspension of disbelief, or just suspension of disbelief.

A recent experience taught me just how powerful our willing suspension of disbelief can be. I had never watched the popular television series Breaking Bad but had heard from several people how good it was. So, around the time other people were discussing the show’s finale, I spent about a week on a marathon viewing of the complete series. At the root of the series is this question: How could a mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher turn into a meth-cooking drug lord? The key to our believing this seemingly far-fetched scenario lies in the context. We all know that teachers earn a pittance and frequently have to take on a second job to supplement their income. So in the initial episode of Breaking Bad, we’re not surprised to see Walt moonlighting at a car wash and to hear Walt’s wife explain about the credit card they can’t use because it’s maxed out. Still, though, a lot of teachers in that situation don’t turn to crime to solve their financial problems.

But then Walt discovers that he’s dying of lung cancer. Of course the first thing he worries about is that his death will leave his family with no money. Then he faces pressure from the family to undertake an expensive experimental treatment that could prolong his life but is not covered by insurance. Add to these circumstances the facts that his teenaged son, a couple of years away from college, has cerebral palsy and that his wife is pregnant with a second child, and suddenly we begin to empathize with Walt. In this context Walt’s decision to turn his only real skill, a keen knowledge of chemistry, into a way out of his financial predicament seems perfectly reasonable. In fact, not only do we condone Walt’s plan, but we even begin to root for his success—at least at first.

Eventually events spiral out of control, and Walt’s character changes drastically during the many turns of events necessary to sustain the continuance of the series over several seasons. But after Walt’s initial decision, each plot turn follows logically from what has come before. It was only that first willing suspension of disbelief that the writers had to work at. I think that my marathon viewing made me more aware of exactly how the show’s creators manufactured that willing suspension of disbelief than I would have been if I’d watched the early episodes unfold one week at a time. That skillfully contrived early situation sucked me into the story and made me accept Walter White’s transformation from high school teacher to ruthless criminal. It’s all in the context.

© 2014 by Mary Daniels Brown

A University Module on Victorian Literature and Psychology

 

In today’s curation for Literature & Psychology I’ve come across this article:

Escaping ‘Horrible Sanity’: Teaching Victorian Literature and Psychology

Here Serena Trowbridge, Lecturer in English Literature at Birmingham City University in the U.K., introduces the module she teaches on Victorian literature and psychology. The rest of the article, written by one of Trowbridge’s students, describes the experience of this unit of study.

There were no such courses when I was in college back in the dark ages of the 1960s, and this description makes me wish there had been.

Joseph Campbell and the Hero’s Journey

 

Have you noticed how similar are the stories of Luke Skywalker, Frodo Baggins, and Harry Potter? All three of these ordinary fellows set out on a long journey, fraught with danger, to undertake a task with a little help from their friends.

When Joseph Campbell examined the mythologies of the world’s major civilizations, he found this pattern of a heroic quest to be universal. Campbell laid out his findings in The Hero with a Thousand Faces, originally published in 1949. Since the book’s publication, this concept of the heroic journey has become the basis for understanding narrative storytelling and is therefore the perfect topic for beginning the conversation on Literature & Psychology.

In the preface to the original edition of Hero, Campbell wrote that his purpose was

to bring together a host of myths and folktales from every corner of the world, and to let the symbols speak for themselves. The parallels will be immediately apparent; and these will develop a vast and amazingly constant statement of the basic truths by which man has lived throughout the millennia of his residence on the planet. (p. xiii)

Campbell’s tool for understanding the symbolic language of the myths and folktales was psychoanalysis.

Campbell broke the hero’s journey down into three parts: (1) departure, (2) initiation, and (3) return. Here is a very abbreviated outline of the entire process. I encourage you to look into The Hero with a Thousand Faces, where Campbell explains how particular myths and tales from several cultures illustrate the heroic journey.

1. Departure, the call to adventure

The beginning of the quest, the call to adventure, is often a seemingly trivial occurrence, perhaps some kind of blunder. For example, a princess playing with a golden ball follows the ball when it rolls away into the forest; there she meets a frog. Campbell explains the call to adventure as “the awakening of the self”:

But whether small or great, and no matter what the stage or grade of life [of the character], the call rings up the curtain, always, on a mystery of transfiguration—a rite, or moment, of spiritual passage, which, when complete, amounts to a dying and a birth. The familiar life horizon has been outgrown; the old concepts, ideals, and emotional patterns no longer fit; the time for the passing of a threshold is at hand. (pp. 42-43)

It is possible for the destined hero to refuse the call, in which case his world deteriorates into a barren landscape representative of his lack of growth. But the character who has failed to answer the call will receive supernatural aid, usually from an old woman or old man who provides amulets or potions for protection against upcoming dangers. With such help from the personification of his destiny, the hero is able to proceed on his journey. He approaches the threshold he must cross, which separates his present, known world from the darkness and dangers of the unknown world beyond. Once he crosses that threshold, the “hero, instead of conquering or conciliating the power of the threshold, is swallowed into the unknown, and would appear to have died” (p. 74).

2. Initiation

Having crossed the threshold, the hero encounters a strange world of trials and ordeals where his strength and persistence are tested. He often receives help from faithful companions and from the possessions given him by his supernatural protectors during the departure phase of his journey. He gradually gains knowledge as he faces and overcomes one obstacle after another. The attainment of knowledge is frequently symbolized by some valuable possession, such as the Golden Fleece that Jason of Greek mythology must obtain.

The world of trials, where the hero is figuratively tested, represents the mystic experience. This is the place where Campbell found psychoanalysis to be most helpful, for the frightening monsters and eerie landscapes the hero encounters here represent both the depths of the human psyche and the heights of transcendent religious experience, the world where the individual self dissolves into one being with the cosmos. The death of the self must precede the knowledge of cosmic unity. For this reason the hero’s journey is often spoken of as a death followed by rebirth, or the descent into hell and back.

3. Return

After attaining knowledge (or obtaining the valuable object that symbolizes knowledge), the hero must take it back home for the benefit of all. To do this he must cross the return threshold that separates the divine realm from the human world:

The realm of the gods is a forgotten dimension of the world we know. And the exploration of that dimension, either willingly or unwillingly, is the whole sense of the deed of the hero. The values and distinctions that in normal life seem important disappear with the terrifying assimilation of the self into what formerly was only otherness. (p. 188)

And having crossed the threshold back into the world of man, the hero faces yet another difficult task:

How render back into light-world language the speech-defying pronouncements of the dark? How represent on a two-dimensional surface a three-dimensional form, or in a three-dimensional image a multi-dimensional meaning? . . . How communicate to people who insist on the exclusive evidence of their senses the message of the all-generating void? (pp. 188-189)

Like Frodo Baggins, the hero returns as a different person than the one who initially left home. Having been reborn, he cannot simply take up his life where he left it. And the returned hero is not only different from the person he used to be; he is also different from everyone else who has not experienced his quest.

 

The myths and tales that Joseph Campbell analyzed come from ancient civilizations. In more modern literature the external journey to unknown lands often becomes an internal journey in search of self-knowledge and personal growth. Yet we continue to respond to the pattern of the hero’s journey, as evidenced by the enormous popularity of the Star Wars films, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy (both books and films), and the Harry Potter series.

Cover: The Hero with a Thousand Faces

 

 

Reference:

Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, 3rd ed. (New World Library, 2008). The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell.

Introducing Literature & Psychology

 

Literature & Psychology is a collection of interdisciplinary news items that I aggregate daily (well, almost daily) through ScoopIt.

Literature & Psychology is also a new category of blog post here. Of course, there’s a story behind it.

About 35 years ago I completed the coursework, though not the dissertation, for a doctorate in English and American literature. But not finishing that degree did not keep me from reading. The more I read, and the more book group discussions I attended, the more I realized that what intrigued me most about fiction is that good literature is psychology, or what characters do, why they do it, and how they handle the consequences of their actions. So when I went back to school for a late-life doctorate, I studied psychology as an adjunct to the literary training I already had. My focus was on life stories, an area that contributes directly to understanding fictional characters.

Posts labeled Literature & Psychology will consider areas that involve the intersection of those two fields. I think of both fields broadly, so that they overlap in areas involving history, culture, and society. The emphasis here, though, is always on how psychology can help us better understand and appreciate works of literature. These posts will focus on three broad areas:

  1. Content, particularly characterization: How do authors create characters?
  2. Form and structure: What conventions and devices do writers use to shape their stories?
  3. The reading process: How and why do we get lost in a good book?

Although these discussions will focus primarily on literature, I will sometimes refer to other formats, particularly film and television, that share aesthetic and cultural features with literature.

Look for the first real Literature & Psychology post soon.