The Book of Emotions – how does it feel?

Kate Kellaway in The Guardian:

There is a sense in which we are all books of emotions: we flip through our pages and think we know how to name what we are feeling. What makes this book so fresh, fascinating and unusual is that it takes nothing for granted and raises new questions at every turn. It reminds us that the language we use to name and nail emotions is provisional (as rough and ready as pinning the tail on the donkey). In Marina Warner’s superb foreword, she mentions in passing that “the word emotion only emerges in English in the 17th century”. I read this with sudden insecurity. Without the containment of the word, what might emotion mean?

“For something so powerful and fundamental, emotion is a slippery concept,” the book’s editor, Edgar Gerrard Hughes, suggests, before asking us to consider whether hope, curiosity, thoughtfulness, aggression and concentration count as emotions. But the overarching question is whether the concept of emotion is “too vague and multivalent to be of real use”. What follows is a meticulously chosen selection of serious and playful contributions that include blushing, the pre-history of emojis and disgust. There is a brilliant fictional piece, After the Party, by Natalie Hume, in which a woman writes a note to the father of her children in the sweetest tone (rage with sugar added) to explain why she no longer wants to live with him.

More here.