Reluctant Imagers & Realism

If readers are reluctant imagers and prefer to have ideas about characters rather than sensations, we are better able to understand why the introduction of realism (especially through the description of status life) is such a powerful device. Tolkien's Hobbits become real to us not because we see them clearly but because we know where they live, how they speak, and what they do. James Bond entrances us because we have been to his London flat, have met his secretary and his housekeeper, and know that he keeps his hand-rolled cigarettes in a gunmetal cigarette box (though we do not much enquire whether gunmetal is blue, black, or silver). In other words, propositions liberate the reader from the vagueness of imaginings and allow the use of propositional thought modes, which, for reasons that psychology has yet to explore (but which are bound up with comprehension processes), are more readily evoked and more richly evocative than the often colorless and wispy pictures we are able to make in our heads.

Nell, p. 217-18

Back to Nell Overview