By Sibylle Baumbach
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Additional info for Literature and Fascination
182 As suggested by the latter, fascination came to be understood as an intense power of attraction, which is as inexplicable as it is irresistible and emanates from either an object or a person. 183 Fascination hence refers to visual, verbal and auditory forms of enchantment alike. 190 Insofar as the harmonious interplay of all beings in the world is founded on concepts of magnetic attraction, the latter bears some affinity to fascination, as will be shown later in this chapter. Literature and Fascination 37 Whenever the term did appear, it was closely linked to dark magic, such as in Nicholas Jacquier’s Flagellum Haereticorum Fascinariorum (1458) or Martin Luther‘s Table Talk (1533).
Instead, we can distil images and figures that have frequently been associated with conflicting reactions and ‘paradoxes of the heart’126 and help explain how narratives of fascination work. 127 So what exactly are these triggers of fascination? 128 Literary fascination is equally complex and emerges from the careful arrangement of different triggers of repulsion and attraction. 129 The lure and magnetic force of the gaze are often suggested in descriptions of a character’s intense stare, but surface also in descriptions of objects, such as the mansion in Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ (1839) with its ‘eye-like windows’ (126).
Within the context of the psychology of emotions, fascination is often loosely (and mistakenly) linked to interest, which Caroll Ellis Izard describes as ‘the most frequently experienced positive emotion’: [Interest] provides much of the motivation for learning, the development of skills and competencies, and for creative endeavor. Interest results from an increase in neural stimulation, usually brought about by change or novelty. 107 Interest, however, is not to be equalled with fascination. It is its prerequisite.