Nothing can be a greater proof of the predominant egotism, which is the disease (we had almost said the vice) of refinement, than the unquenchable thirst for story, so prevalent among all kinds of readers. [...] We are become too indolent and too selfish to be easily excited or much interested, unless by mere story. We can identify ourselves with the hero or heroine of a tale. We think what we should have done, or how we should have felt, in such circumstances; and, while the dramatis personae suffer or mourn, we can congratulate ourselves on our own exemption from such suffering.
- "Remarks on Mrs. Hemans's Poems," The Edinburgh Magazine, Nov. 1819
Who cannot perceive that the great heart of Aeschylus throbs with the agonies of Prometheus, when the vulture flaps his heavy wings upon the crags of Caucasus? We recognize the same suppression of individual insulated consciousness in the tragedies of Shakespeare; or, if you turn to a sister art, in the pictures of Raphael. [...] As the poet passes out of himself into the character which he delineates, so the reader must identify himself with the character when it is portrayed; and he must not only go out of himself, but out of his age, "he must forget himself, and his prejudices, and predilections, and associations, and give up his thoughts to the work he is perusing, and try to take his stand on the author's point of view."
- "A Summer Hour in Pope's Garden at Twickenham," Fraser's Magazine, Mar. 1844 (the quote is from a sermon by Julius Hare)
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