Term of Art: Affective Fallacy

“affective fallacy: A critical term denoting the confusion between what a literary work is and what it does. That is, a work should be judged solely on its literary components, not by its emotional (or affective) impact on the reader. It was first identified as a critical ‘error’ by Monroe Beardsley and W.K. Wimsatt in The Verbal Icon (1954). It is related to intentional fallacy, in which a work is judged according to what the author presumably intended to say or in relation to the author’s biography.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

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