Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sentimental Elaboration . . .

Mary Ruefle

In alluding to her own sentimentality -- and in the course of doing so, admitting to an abhorrence of cats but a fondness for kittens -- Ms. Ruefle writes:
I have noticed that when a cat has kittens, my friends give away the kittens and keep the cat. Which has always baffled me: in the same situation, I would give the cat away and keep the kittens. (Ruefle, Madness, Rack, and Honey, 35)
I laughed out loud at this admission. "Which is more sentimental?" she asks (35). A relationship with a cat? Or an attachment to a kitten? She implies the latter even though she has just a few lines earlier -- back on page 34 -- stated that she "can't think of anything more sentimental than to own a cat"!

But as John Gardner once said -- and Ruefle quotes him on page 35 -- sentimentality is "causeless emotion" . . .

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