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The Case of the Literary Spectator

The Case of the Literary Spectator

(p.146) Four The Case of the Literary Spectator
An Archaeology of Sympathy
James Chandler
University of Chicago Press

This chapter focuses on the case of the literary spectator. It argues that the notion of the case not only is helpful for thinking about the relation between an externalized point of view and its subject, but is also a term that is most apposite to the sentimental tradition in question. It is there in Adam Smith's language about how, in the act of sympathetically imagining ourselves in the place of the other, we put ourselves in the case of the other. This language is to be understood in relation to Smith's critique of another model of the case as it is found in the tradition of Jesuit casuistry. The discussion then goes back to mid-eighteenth-century Britain, when the sentimentalization of the case in the medium of print first established the basic parameters of a new literary mode.

Keywords:   Frank Capra, Charles Dickens, It's a Wonderful Life, Adam Smith, case, sentimentalization, literary mode

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