Literary Empathy: The Last Station

Empathy: The imaginative projection into another’s feelings, a state of total identification with another’s situation, condition, and thoughts. The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without explicitly articulating these feelings. Fern empathizes with Wilbur; Charlotte empathizes with Wilbur. []


The Last Station, Jay Parini

the last station masha


But there was something I wanted to say to her. I didn’t know how to say it. I was afraid to say it, since once it got said, we were stuck with it. It would either flap there in the wind like a loose shutter, an annoyance, or something definite and palpable would happen.

“I love you, Masha,” I said.

The words floated in the air, like a balloon, a bright, shimmering  bubble. I waited for it to pop into nothingness, to disappear. For a terrible moment, I felt as though I hadn’t said it aloud, that the words had formed, cloudlike, in my head without condensing into utterance.

Chapter 24, “Bulgakov”

When you read, are you ever incredibly overwhelmed by the very words on the page? Does your breath ever catch–your heart pound so hard in your chest–because you know this, have felt this, have imagined this, have lived this all before? And somehow an Author has managed to capture in words the very truth you know?


2 thoughts on “Literary Empathy: The Last Station

  1. Yes, and I think that is the moment all we writers long to create… either that, or the moment when one sees, put into words one would not have imagined, a concept one knows but that one has not held, tangible, before.

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