Is there a term for getting too emotionally involved in works of fiction?
Twice this week I’ve found myself in tears while under the influence of some play or epic poem. First Hector died and left poor sweet Andromache a widow, which had me sniffling for the last chapter or so of The Iliad.
Then I read Our Town, the notoriously normal play by Thornton Wilder, which chronicles the above average love of an average couple who lived simplistically beautiful lives. The girl, Emily, dies in childbirth only a few years after being married to her high school sweetheart. I saw this play performed on campus last year and barely sniffed once, but now, reading Emily’s plaintive posthumous lines:
“Mama, just for a moment we’re happy. Let’s look at one another….I can’t. I can’t go on. It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another. I didn’t realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed.”.
I confess to having to stop and wring my eyelids out.
The last time I wept freely over a piece of prose was when I read Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo. The tiger in question comes to an unfortunate end, and my eleven-year-old self couldn’t handle the emotional strain. But now, as a twenty-year-old, I find myself strangely moved by every blessed thing, whether I read it, hear it, see it, or even taste it.
This may be a symptom that I am finally coming unwound. Or I need more sleep. Or both.