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Pathetic Fallacy

  ‘Pathetic fallacy’ is a phrase coined by the 19th-century critic John Ruskin to describe the way writers and painters ascribe emotion to the phenomena of Nature, or to pretend that such phenomena sympathize with the feelings of the human beings involved with them. Ruskin himself affected to prefer the objective realities of Nature (though he was happier with its beauty or ruggedness—both ‘pathetic’ adjectives—than with what Tennyson called its redness in tooth and claw). But few imaginative creators have shared this preference, and the pathetic fallacy has been a favourite resource in fine art, literature and music, and not just in Romantic times, when it reached, perhaps, its zenith, but from the earliest beginnings to the present day. KMcL  



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