Sentimentality is the substitution of emotion for intelligence; sentimentality requires the reader to assent to heightened feelings not legitimated by the matter at hand; sentimentality seeks to manipulate the reader's emotional response by calls to conventional wisdom or attitudes; sentimentality seeks approval by reference to the vast warm blanket of majority opinion; sentimentality never, ever risks the disapproval of any member of its intended audience.

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.

1 thought on “Sentimentality”

  1. Joe,
    Don’t know where I read this, because it is not originally mine, but my working definition of sentimentality (for example, when I’m using 19th century popular lit or religious pamphlets in my teaching) is “the affirmation of what has already been denied.”

    Dr. M

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