quote_feeling

“The most difficult thing to get hold of, in studying any past period, is this felt sense of the quality of life at a particular place and time: a sense in which the particular activities combined into a way of thinking and living. We can go some way in restoring the outlines of a particular organization of life; we can recover what Fromm calls the ‘social character’ and Benedict the ‘pattern of culture’. […] Yet, even these, as we recover them, are usually abstract. Possibly, however, we can gain the sense of a further common element, which is neither the character nor the pattern, but as it were the actual experience through which these were lived. […]
The term I would suggest to describe it is structure of feeling [emphasis in the original]: it is as firm and definite as the word ‘structure’ suggests, yet it operates in the most delicate and least tangible parts of our activity. In one sense, this structure of feeling is the culture of a period: it is the particular living result of all the elements in the general organization. And it is in this respect that the arts of a period, taking these to include characteristic approaches and tones in argument, are of major importance. For here, if anywhere, this characteristic is likely to be expressed; often not consciously, but by the fact that here, in the only examples we have of recorded communication that outlives its bearers, the actual living sense, the deep community that makes the communication possible, is naturally drawn upon.”

Raymond Williams in The Long Revolution (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1965), pp. 63ff