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On the Art of Poetry: With a Supplement on Music

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‘The plot is the source and the soul of tragedy’ In his near-contemporary account of Greek tragedy, Aristotle examines the dramatic elements of plot, character, language and spectacle that combine to produce pity and fear in the audience, and asks why we derive pleasure from this apparently painful process. Taking examples from the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripide ‘The plot is the source and the soul of tragedy’ In his near-contemporary account of Greek tragedy, Aristotle examines the dramatic elements of plot, character, language and spectacle that combine to produce pity and fear in the audience, and asks why we derive pleasure from this apparently painful process. Taking examples from the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, The Poetics introduces into literary criticism such central concepts as mimesis (‘imitation’), hamartia (‘error’), and katharsis (‘purification’). Aristotle explains how the most effective tragedies rely on complication and resolution, recognition and reversals, centring on characters of heroic stature, idealized yet true to life. One of the most powerful, perceptive and influential works of criticism in Western literary history, the Poetics has informed serious thinking about drama ever since. Malcolm Heath’s lucid English translation makes the Poetics fully accessible to the modern reader. It is accompanied by an extended introduction, which discusses the key concepts in detail and includes suggestions for further reading.


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‘The plot is the source and the soul of tragedy’ In his near-contemporary account of Greek tragedy, Aristotle examines the dramatic elements of plot, character, language and spectacle that combine to produce pity and fear in the audience, and asks why we derive pleasure from this apparently painful process. Taking examples from the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripide ‘The plot is the source and the soul of tragedy’ In his near-contemporary account of Greek tragedy, Aristotle examines the dramatic elements of plot, character, language and spectacle that combine to produce pity and fear in the audience, and asks why we derive pleasure from this apparently painful process. Taking examples from the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, The Poetics introduces into literary criticism such central concepts as mimesis (‘imitation’), hamartia (‘error’), and katharsis (‘purification’). Aristotle explains how the most effective tragedies rely on complication and resolution, recognition and reversals, centring on characters of heroic stature, idealized yet true to life. One of the most powerful, perceptive and influential works of criticism in Western literary history, the Poetics has informed serious thinking about drama ever since. Malcolm Heath’s lucid English translation makes the Poetics fully accessible to the modern reader. It is accompanied by an extended introduction, which discusses the key concepts in detail and includes suggestions for further reading.

30 review for On the Art of Poetry: With a Supplement on Music

  1. 4 out of 5

    Glenn Russell

    During the golden age of ancient Greece bards roamed the countryside mesmerizing crowds by reciting the epics of Homer. Thousands of men and women gathered and were moved to tears by tragedies performed outside in amphitheaters during sacred festivals. Such an amazingly powerful and profound experience for an entire population. What was going on here; why were people so deeply affected? Well, one of the sharpest, most analytic minds in the history of the West set himself the task of answering ju During the golden age of ancient Greece bards roamed the countryside mesmerizing crowds by reciting the epics of Homer. Thousands of men and women gathered and were moved to tears by tragedies performed outside in amphitheaters during sacred festivals. Such an amazingly powerful and profound experience for an entire population. What was going on here; why were people so deeply affected? Well, one of the sharpest, most analytic minds in the history of the West set himself the task of answering just this question - his name was Aristotle. Indeed, Aristotle's Poetics is one of the greatest philosophical works ever written. For over two thousand years, philosophers, scholars and thinkers have been pouring over each phrase and sentence of the master's words as if they were nuggets of gold. There are enough commentaries to fill several thick volumes in a university library. Quite something since the entire Poetics is a mere twenty pages. But what coverage! To list several: plot, character, language and two concepts supercharged with meaning: mimesis (imitation) and catharsis (inspiring pity or fear). Of course, in our contemporary world we don't listen to bards recite epics or go to amphitheaters to watch tragedies, but we have abundant experience of these dramatic elements since we, among other things, read novels and watch films. So, to provide a taste of Aristotle's work, I offer my modest comments along with quotes from the text. Please take this as an invitation to explore the Poetics on your own. Below is a link to a fine translation and a second link to an extraordinarily clear, brief, easy-to follow commentary. "Poetry in general seems to have sprung from two causes, each of them lying deep in our nature. First, the instinct of imitation is implanted in man from childhood, one difference between him and other animals being that he is the most imitative of living creatures, and through imitation learns his earliest lessons; and no less universal is the pleasure felt in things imitated. . . . to learn gives the liveliest pleasure, not only to philosophers but to men in general" ---------- Ah, pleasure! And pleasure in learning about life through imitation/fiction. Even if the story involves a Siberian prison camp or an insane chase of a white whale, there is a kind of pleasure in identifying with a character and living through the character's plight. Our humanness is enriched. "Tragedy, then, is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude." ---------- The Maltese Falcon begins with very serious action: a murder. And the story is complete since at the end the case is solved and the criminals answer for their crimes. How many novels and films follow this formula? Round to the nearest million. "Now as tragic imitation implies persons acting, it necessarily follows in the first place, that Spectacular equipment will be a part of Tragedy." ---------- Even back in ancient Greece, Aristotle acknowledge how special effects can really juice the action. "The most powerful elements of emotional interest in Tragedy- Peripeteia or Reversal of the Situation, and Recognition scenes- are parts of the plot." ---------- I don't know about you, but I recall with the film Gone Girl my interest would ratchet up a few notches with every reversal and recognition. I can just imagine Gillian Flynn pouring over her Aristotle. "The greater the length, the more beautiful will the piece be by reason of its size, provided that the whole be perspicuous." ---------- When I go to a three hour movie or pick up a nine hundred page novel, my first thought: this had better be good. And when it is good, a great pay-off for time spent. "Tragedy is an imitation not only of a complete action, but of events inspiring fear or pity." ---------- Admit it, we remember most those times when we are emotionally wrenched. Poetics, on line: http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/poe... Commentary: http://www.english.hawaii.edu/critica...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alok Mishra

    Had to study this one by Aristotle in the post-graduation syllabus. That time, we could not go beyond the walls of our academic requirements. When the studies came to an official end, the free exploration began and that was the period I not only read but also pondered, enjoyed and relished in the text. It opens up a whole new world in front of the readers who take an interest in literature. Poetics is one of the best attempts at critical theories and it's also the base on which some great litera Had to study this one by Aristotle in the post-graduation syllabus. That time, we could not go beyond the walls of our academic requirements. When the studies came to an official end, the free exploration began and that was the period I not only read but also pondered, enjoyed and relished in the text. It opens up a whole new world in front of the readers who take an interest in literature. Poetics is one of the best attempts at critical theories and it's also the base on which some great literary works have been standing for centuries!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I just reluctantly gave my copy of Aristotle's Poetics to my son, who recently discovered drama. It is earmarked and highlighted and it guided me through university, telling me what I needed to know about tragedy and its core elements, such as unity of time, place and action. The reason we started talking about drama was that my son didn't particularly like Emilia Galotti, Lessing's "Bürgerliche Tragödie", and we talked about the strange code of honour that made a father kill his daughter to save I just reluctantly gave my copy of Aristotle's Poetics to my son, who recently discovered drama. It is earmarked and highlighted and it guided me through university, telling me what I needed to know about tragedy and its core elements, such as unity of time, place and action. The reason we started talking about drama was that my son didn't particularly like Emilia Galotti, Lessing's "Bürgerliche Tragödie", and we talked about the strange code of honour that made a father kill his daughter to save her virtue. "What's progressive about that?" my son asked furiously, and I found myself in the bizarre position to defend patriarchy and its flawed moral codes, by saying that it was modern "back then" to let a girl die "tragically" without being a princess or a queen. My son raised his eyebrows, and I sensed the lack of logic. "So it was progressive that women of ALL classes were allowed to be sacrificed to the egos of men who considered them their property?" "Eh!" I love the fact that literature makes me challenge my own acquired knowledge, and think again about something I just took at face value when I read Emilia Galotti myself. For of course it is bizarre, especially considering that Lessing is a representative of Enlightenment culture. And while we were at it, we talked about all the other bizarre elements of classical drama. And we realised that it is more like life than we first thought: after all, each day we reinvent the narratives of our lives and press them into what we can perceive as one action, one place and one time: one day of madness and drama. So yesterday I acted out the tragic loss of my university copy of Aristotle! It will stay in spirit.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sean Barrs the Bookdragon

    It’s odd that the most ancient essay on literary criticism is one of the easiest to understand. It is so accessible. If you compare this to works by Nietzsche, Hegel and Freud the extremities of this can easily be seen. Aristotle explains his theory in the most basic language possible with no artful language that distances the reader from it. It is completely comprehensive and virtually impossible not to understand. Aristotle was an advocate of presenting his arguments in the most simplest of la It’s odd that the most ancient essay on literary criticism is one of the easiest to understand. It is so accessible. If you compare this to works by Nietzsche, Hegel and Freud the extremities of this can easily be seen. Aristotle explains his theory in the most basic language possible with no artful language that distances the reader from it. It is completely comprehensive and virtually impossible not to understand. Aristotle was an advocate of presenting his arguments in the most simplest of languages. And I thank him for it. Without this book I don’t think I would have been able to fully comprehend exactly what a Tragedy is or how they work, and I most certainly wouldn’t have been able to pass my Tragedy module of my degree. The Poetics is essentially a guide, or rulebook, for what makes the perfect tragic play. Aristotle argues, well teaches us, that it is achieved through a Cathartic moment that arouses pity and fear at the same time. This occurs only if the plot is sufficiently complex, which brings forth the tragic action. The plot’s complexity should be achieved through the use of recognition, a reversal and heaps of suffering for everybody. The reversal is usually something like the revenger becoming the revenged and this can be achieved through recognition. The recognition is the true knowledge acquired about one’s circumstance, which will always bring about suffering for the tragic character. In addition, the tragic characters should have a hamartia, which is to say they should have a tragic flaw. This could be something like extreme loyalty or ignorance. If you believe the Hegel model of tragedy then this is also the thing that makes the character “better than ourselves.” The best illustration of a hamartia, and the one Aristotle uses, is Oedipus. His lack of knowledge causes him to murder his farther and marry his mother, but at the same time leads him to become a mighty King. This is a work that every literature student is encouraged to read, and there’s a reason for it. Aristotle’s theory enlightens the reader to the devices behind tragic art. Once you’ve read this you’ll never be able to read a Tragedy again without this in mind; it forms almost a mental checklist in your head.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    This is perhaps my favourite philosopher of the Ancient world chatting about literary criticism – it doesn’t really get too much better than this. Plato, of course, wanted to banish all of the artists from his ideal republic. He wanted to do this because the world we live in is a poor copy of the ‘real’ world and so art is but a copy of a copy. Rather than bring us closer to the truth, Plato believed that art took us further away. It can’t have been easy for Aristotle, Plato’s student, to disagre This is perhaps my favourite philosopher of the Ancient world chatting about literary criticism – it doesn’t really get too much better than this. Plato, of course, wanted to banish all of the artists from his ideal republic. He wanted to do this because the world we live in is a poor copy of the ‘real’ world and so art is but a copy of a copy. Rather than bring us closer to the truth, Plato believed that art took us further away. It can’t have been easy for Aristotle, Plato’s student, to disagree with the views of the master – but disagree he clearly did. He begins this by agreeing with Plato that art is imitation of the world, but rather than this being a bad thing, he says that the advantage of art is that it cuts out the dross of existence and concentrates what is important. By doing this art allows us to look beyond the particulars of our everyday existence and see the universals. The lessons we learn from art are thereby clearer and easier to assimilate. Life is always lived in the particular, but art, to Aristotle, allows us to see deeper truths because it moves us towards universals. Characters may have individual names, but we find it harder to distance ourselves from characters in fiction than we are able to do with characters in history. It would be hard to discuss this book without mentioning catharsis. It is a Greek word meaning purgative, and to Aristotle the appeal of tragedies was that they act like a purgative on our emotions. It is a fascinating idea and one that I think still holds. It would be otherwise hard to see why we enjoy tragedies. The notion that ‘there but for the grace of God’ and the recognition that bad things happen even to the best of men are ideas that do have a cathartic effect on our emotions. Shit happens, but it happens to the best of us as well as to the worst of us. There is always something nice about watching Aristotle slice up the world – he is a remarkably logical person and someone who is able to not only divide the world into its logical components, but to then say incredibly interesting things about these slices. I first read this twenty years ago, it is well worth reading and re-reading.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    If you want to learn about tragedy--or narrative in general--this is still the best place to start.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Luís C.

    One of the most "accessible" works of the great philosopher, in Poetics - defined as imitation - after having repudiated comedy ("... comedy, as we have already said, is an imitation of what is worse (than reality), and not in any kind of vice, but rather an imitation of what is ugly, part of which is ridiculous ... "), he sings to us the praises of tragedy: this one, integrated in the unit of action (it is interesting that the other two units are timid, if not absent) aims to trigger in the soul One of the most "accessible" works of the great philosopher, in Poetics - defined as imitation - after having repudiated comedy ("... comedy, as we have already said, is an imitation of what is worse (than reality), and not in any kind of vice, but rather an imitation of what is ugly, part of which is ridiculous ... "), he sings to us the praises of tragedy: this one, integrated in the unit of action (it is interesting that the other two units are timid, if not absent) aims to trigger in the soul of the spectator a catharsis, that is to say a purification of the soul through the aesthetic unveiling of the most vilest "spectacle" - "we take pleasure in contemplating the most exact images of things whose sight is painful to us in reality, such as the most despised animal forms and corpses," he says. Tragedy thus has, in contrast to comedy, a "ritualistic" role, and it then contrasts - in a few pages - with the epic, which differs not only in form (unity of action - precisely -, ... ) but who does not have these "transcendental" claims about the "alchemy" of the viewer, which, in fact, is only there for "pleasure" (in the most common sense).

  8. 4 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    This is the best commentary I could find on The Poetics. Bywater's is a much better translation and immensely readable, except for the places where he employs the Greek without transliteration. A good strategy could be to keep to Bywater for a first read, and then use Whalley's idiosyncratic and 'deliberately clumsy' translation while studying his notes. We can even supplement it with the Lucas notes. The best essay length criticism can be had from Lucas and Else, both of which are referred to of This is the best commentary I could find on The Poetics. Bywater's is a much better translation and immensely readable, except for the places where he employs the Greek without transliteration. A good strategy could be to keep to Bywater for a first read, and then use Whalley's idiosyncratic and 'deliberately clumsy' translation while studying his notes. We can even supplement it with the Lucas notes. The best essay length criticism can be had from Lucas and Else, both of which are referred to often by Whalley. I am planning to read at least one of them soon. Whalley's comparisons with Coleridge is particularly useful if the reader is interested in learning to think about how Aristotle's percepts can be made to fit modern literary works. Also his approach is no to treat every word A. uses as a technical term, which is an unfortunate tendency of most academic works. So we usually end up talking very particularly about terms which Aristotle probably wanted to give a wider ambit to. This is when it becomes easy to lapse into thinking that Aristotle is too formalistic and hence dismissing him. That would be poor form for a student.

  9. 4 out of 5

    J.G. Keely

    There's something terribly edifying when, having created your own rubric for how books should be judged, you happen to pick up the work from which all literary criticism arose and find that you and Aristotle have independently produced the same system for judgment. I know it probably just trickled down to me through cultural osmosis, but it does give me hope that I'm putting the pieces together properly.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Edward

    Introduction Note on the Texts and Translations Select Bibliography A Chronology of Aristotle Outline of the 'Poetics' --From Plato, Republic, Books 2, 3, and 10 --Aristotle, Poetics --From Sir Philip Sidney, An Apology for Poetry --From P. B. Shelley, A Defence of Poetry --From D. L. Sayers, 'Aristotle on Detective Fiction' A Note on Metre Explanatory Notes Glossary of Key Terms Index

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jo (A follower of wizards)

    Poetics is the earliest known work of literary criticism. This copy was laid out in lecture note form. Aristotle gives his views on tragedy, the plot, the characters and the content, and then it is compared to epic poetry. Content wise, I think this book is great, but it was just so very boring! I found the parts with the ancient Greek language particularly difficult to read and analyse.

  12. 5 out of 5

    david

    It is truly astounding, humbling, and semi-surreal to think that after so many years, the continuously strolling and pondering Greek philosopher, Aristotle, is vital and relevant, hundreds of thousands of days after his passing. To any who claim social progress and technology has changed the world, well I am not so sure. It appears, time and again, all who we were, are, and will continue to be, is exponentially less significant than we may think. And it is a wonderful book for playwrights and poets It is truly astounding, humbling, and semi-surreal to think that after so many years, the continuously strolling and pondering Greek philosopher, Aristotle, is vital and relevant, hundreds of thousands of days after his passing. To any who claim social progress and technology has changed the world, well I am not so sure. It appears, time and again, all who we were, are, and will continue to be, is exponentially less significant than we may think. And it is a wonderful book for playwrights and poets and writers to learn from, even today. Startling. Instructive. Banal. Human (even Aristotle).

  13. 5 out of 5

    Fabian

    Here is a rudimentary tablet of knowledge by one of the greats. First off, it is somewhat incredible to concede the year that this was written, and that almost 2,400 years later we are still eager to explore poetics that are in this aged article so clearly defined. Aristotle exalts the poet and holds him in the highest esteem. Similarly, I have come to the conclusion that the novelist of literature is the truest of artists, imitating what he sees and ‘painting’ things as how they are, telling it Here is a rudimentary tablet of knowledge by one of the greats. First off, it is somewhat incredible to concede the year that this was written, and that almost 2,400 years later we are still eager to explore poetics that are in this aged article so clearly defined. Aristotle exalts the poet and holds him in the highest esteem. Similarly, I have come to the conclusion that the novelist of literature is the truest of artists, imitating what he sees and ‘painting’ things as how they are, telling it as other people tell it and so is said to be, or constructing a world in its most ideal, illustrious state. This is but one of the many core concepts Aristotle pries open. Yes, as readers we have been conscious of the literary elements and the mixture of these comprise contemporary fiction, certainly, but here is a very significant work for the writer and not just the poet. Always pitting the Epic poem versus the Tragedy, Aristotle maintains that although a Tragedy has all the same elements as an Epic the Epic poem does not always include elements of Tragedy. Here is the contemporary distinction between epic novels (Gone with the Wind, The Thorn Birds) and tragic family dramas (see: Eugene O’Neill, Arthur Miller). But the spirit of drama must flow through both, though the parameters & scales differ. Indeed some of the dogmas have been explained over and over the years by countless English teachers. So it was a relief to find some of the writer’s personal touches in this informative essay, such as his constant distinction between philosophers and mere men, his fanboy affinity to Homer, his fondness for markedly-clear beginnings and endings, how Epic poetry is the “highest” art form (one would imagine that in the modern world Aristotle would have preferred ‘Titanic’ over ‘American Beauty’), and that poetry “is a more philosophical and a higher thing than history.” (Seemingly rudimentary, this is a must for novelists, even though Epic poems and stage Tragedies are long gone. Sadly the later chapters in Aristotle’s “Poetics” are like trips to elementary school English (letters àwords àsentences). That something from 350 BC is still employed in something so vast and, sometimes if we are lucky, so avant garde as literature is both frightening and encouraging.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rakhi Dalal

    Been reading this again. Aristotle's take on woman Even a woman may be good, and also a slave; though the woman may be said to be an inferior being, and the slave quite worthless, reminds me of something similar being said by Krishna in the Bhagwadgita.. I am inclined to reduce the rating here, but will probably do that with a full review.

  15. 5 out of 5

    bup

    Well, I tell you what. Did you ever see "Dead Poet's Society"? You know that scene where it's the first day of school and Robin Williams has them read that essay out loud, with all sorts of formulae and things for analyzing poetry - where Robin Williams graphs a formula on the board: PxI=G ? Remember that? That's the feeling I got with this. It seems to miss the forest for the trees. OK, it's an analysis of drama and epic poetry. But to what end? Aristotle apparently felt it would be prescriptive to Well, I tell you what. Did you ever see "Dead Poet's Society"? You know that scene where it's the first day of school and Robin Williams has them read that essay out loud, with all sorts of formulae and things for analyzing poetry - where Robin Williams graphs a formula on the board: PxI=G ? Remember that? That's the feeling I got with this. It seems to miss the forest for the trees. OK, it's an analysis of drama and epic poetry. But to what end? Aristotle apparently felt it would be prescriptive to writers, so that they could produce better work. Maybe to a small degree it does. But if something works, it works. The success of any form of art is nothing more nor less than its gestalt effect - any checklist of qualities to determine its worth is necessarily bound to failure.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Corey

    Vonnegut said that this little essay was all any novelist needed to know and I won't argue with Kurt.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Genni

    Whew. I made it through my first work by Aristotle. If all of his works are written like this, then I don't think it's going to be that bad. My perception was that he was extremely difficult. But just from this work alone, it seems he is just very thorough. A very precise thinker. So if he deals with difficult material, he will do so in such a way that is very clear, and not convoluted. At least, that is the impression so far... The following example stuck out to me. Let it not be said that Arist Whew. I made it through my first work by Aristotle. If all of his works are written like this, then I don't think it's going to be that bad. My perception was that he was extremely difficult. But just from this work alone, it seems he is just very thorough. A very precise thinker. So if he deals with difficult material, he will do so in such a way that is very clear, and not convoluted. At least, that is the impression so far... The following example stuck out to me. Let it not be said that Aristotle never defines his terms. "A whole is that which has a beginning, a middle, and an end. A beginning is that which does not itself follow anything by causal necessity, but after which something naturally is or comes to be. An end, on the contrary, is that which itself naturally follows some other thing, either by necessity, or as a rule, but has nothing following it. A middle is that which follows something as some otherr thing follows it." Well, I should have taken all of this for granted had he not explained it to me. I thought this was almost....cute? Can I say Aristotle was cute? No, that's strange. Anyway, that unity is a continuous point of importance for him. In the end, he argues that lack of unity is the reason that Epic poetry is a lesser art form than Tragic plays, contrary to the popular opinion of his day. Aristotle mostly deals with the tragic form of poetry. And it is fascinating alone for it's insights into what the famous tragedians actually did in their writing. I walked away with a greater appreciation for Oedipus. And while tearing the form apart into minute detail and explaining what it is that makes a great tragedy, he does allow for the mysterious "artistic freedom" poets require. But I don't think reading this work is for gaining a greater appreciation for Greek tragedy alone. He throws out thoughts for why we enjoy watching theatrical forms in general. And his descriptions of different aspects of poetry, such as plot and character, are relevant today.

  18. 5 out of 5

    João Fernandes

    Despite the importance this book holds as the first attempt at a guide to art and dramatic critic, I think most of Aristotle's points aren't particularly accurate in the current age. Fortunately for all of us, Art has evolved past form. The passing of time has allowed artists, from dramatists to writers, to break the conventions of past eras. So no, Aristotle, comedy is no longer about "inferior people" and tragedy about "great people". Nor is Art very logically constructed. By all means, read th Despite the importance this book holds as the first attempt at a guide to art and dramatic critic, I think most of Aristotle's points aren't particularly accurate in the current age. Fortunately for all of us, Art has evolved past form. The passing of time has allowed artists, from dramatists to writers, to break the conventions of past eras. So no, Aristotle, comedy is no longer about "inferior people" and tragedy about "great people". Nor is Art very logically constructed. By all means, read the "Poetics", in particular the 7th section, on tragedy, which I think may be the most accurate and interesting one. Luckily everything else has somehow been allowed to change.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. Aristotle examines specific story forms like an ancient doctor analyzing the construction of the human body. He has great advice, and the relevancy to the modern works I've read surprised me.

  20. 4 out of 5

    belle de jour

    It's hard to believe that this formalist approach to literature was actually written in ancient times. also most of his ideas are not accepted in modern literary criticism but nobody can deny the role which Aristotle played in history of literature and criticism. He really tries to define form and structure of literature, different genres, the laws which literary pieces should be written based on. and though it has not been mentioned in the book but it is clearly a critical response to Plato's a It's hard to believe that this formalist approach to literature was actually written in ancient times. also most of his ideas are not accepted in modern literary criticism but nobody can deny the role which Aristotle played in history of literature and criticism. He really tries to define form and structure of literature, different genres, the laws which literary pieces should be written based on. and though it has not been mentioned in the book but it is clearly a critical response to Plato's antagonistic ideas about literature. though I admire him as a philosopher, I just can not forget the sexist expressions in the book. in one page he says with a manner of astonishment "even a woman may be good." well of course I understand that it was common for the period which he lived but I have to criticize it anyway.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alina Cătărău

    I'm glad that I have finally read Aristotle's Poetics because it is an important essay on writing and performing - actually it's one of the earliest works on literary theory, creative writing and theatre - which shouldn't be read only by actors and those who study literature, but by anyone who considers oneself to be an artist. Besides the wide space dedicated to tragedy and the epic poetry, the Greek philosopher also inserts elements belonging to other arts, such as music and painting. I'm very I'm glad that I have finally read Aristotle's Poetics because it is an important essay on writing and performing - actually it's one of the earliest works on literary theory, creative writing and theatre - which shouldn't be read only by actors and those who study literature, but by anyone who considers oneself to be an artist. Besides the wide space dedicated to tragedy and the epic poetry, the Greek philosopher also inserts elements belonging to other arts, such as music and painting. I'm very sorry that the second part of the book tackling comedy is lost, but fortunately, the other part of the essay survived to give us a glimpse of Greek theatre and its famous tragedies.

  22. 5 out of 5

    M.L. Rio

    Every writer should read this, because a lot Aristotle's rules for good writing are still on point after 2,300 years.

  23. 5 out of 5

    kommunia🚩🔥

    It all started from a meeting with a professdor of my university department when I told her the book I wanted to read about a French thinker and she was like "Why are you reading texts about her and not by her?" This was a question I sometimes would think of but I always felt insufficient and uncomfortable confronting a text by a philosopher; however, the way she put it forward to me I felt super easy, so when I needed to organize my knowledge of the tragedy I decided to go straight to Aristotle It all started from a meeting with a professdor of my university department when I told her the book I wanted to read about a French thinker and she was like "Why are you reading texts about her and not by her?" This was a question I sometimes would think of but I always felt insufficient and uncomfortable confronting a text by a philosopher; however, the way she put it forward to me I felt super easy, so when I needed to organize my knowledge of the tragedy I decided to go straight to Aristotle's text and I couldn't believe how easy to grasp it was! It principally regards tragedy through a sort of comparison with comedy and epic. It walks you through the elements and the parts of a tragedy and provides examples from tragedies some of which, unfortunately, we no longer have access to... He lauds Homer, and although he is trying to mention how different tragedies are with epic, he sometimes puts certain Homerian properties as a model to follow in tragedies. Obviously, what Aristotle pens here doesn't matter much; I mean we don't necessarily need tragedies to happen over a day with a length which is orderly and consequetial; however the method he has used in analyzing the Tragedy and various tragedies is certainly a course of Literary Criticism. I'm definitely going back to this one but I'm also sure this reading has taught me a lot about reading the original texts rather than their interpretations.

  24. 5 out of 5

    John Hughes

    Aristotle’s Poetics had a distinct effect on 16th and 17th century poetry and drama, whose views slowly grew into a rigid framework around his “unities” which led to the restrictive element to the tragedies of Louis XIV’s court. It is also likely that it influenced Dante in calling his work a “comedy”. If you have read Nicomachean Ethics, you will have no problem with the Poetics. I believe the perceived difficulty of the work must come from the myriad of Greek phrases that do not have a direct m Aristotle’s Poetics had a distinct effect on 16th and 17th century poetry and drama, whose views slowly grew into a rigid framework around his “unities” which led to the restrictive element to the tragedies of Louis XIV’s court. It is also likely that it influenced Dante in calling his work a “comedy”. If you have read Nicomachean Ethics, you will have no problem with the Poetics. I believe the perceived difficulty of the work must come from the myriad of Greek phrases that do not have a direct modern equivalent that gives the translator difficulty. Anthony Kenny’s translation (Oxford world classics 2013) was easy to follow and clearly structured, with added excerpts from Plato’s Republic, Sidney’s Apology for Poetry, and Shelley’s Defence of Poetry to help place Aristotle’s opinions in a wider framework.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Michael Kress

    Aristotle is considered to be one of the most important philosophers of all time, and just about all the philosophy books that I've read have mentioned him, so I felt it was necessary to check out his writings in order to have a deeper understanding of those books as well as developing my own philosophy. But this was a tough read. Although he was Plato's student, there is a huge contrast between their two styles. Plato is more entertaining, while Aristotle is more rigid, devoid of any wit or hum Aristotle is considered to be one of the most important philosophers of all time, and just about all the philosophy books that I've read have mentioned him, so I felt it was necessary to check out his writings in order to have a deeper understanding of those books as well as developing my own philosophy. But this was a tough read. Although he was Plato's student, there is a huge contrast between their two styles. Plato is more entertaining, while Aristotle is more rigid, devoid of any wit or humor. What I do appreciate about Aristotle is that he leaves no stone unturned, approaching each topic from every possible angle. "Poetics" describes the basic elements of comedy, tragedy, and epic poetry, as well as the qualities that make these art forms good or bad. It also critiques many of the poets of that time, including Homer, so I was glad that I had read "Iliad" and "Odyssey" beforehand. However, I felt that if I had been more well-read in all forms of Greek poetry, I would have gotten more out of it. I had previously read "Nicomachean Ethics" by Aristotle and found it more interesting. I would recommend that you read that instead, unless you are familiar with Greek poetry and find the subject matter of "Poetics" more appealing.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mohammed Bouarrata

    In Poetics, Aristotle attempts an analysis of poetry, mainly tragedy and epic poetry. It is nothing short of surprising what this work is, whatever I expected to find, it is not what I ended up finding. Poetics is surprisingly simple, considering its age and the complexity of the subject matter. I think my understanding of the nature of tragedy and epic poems has been increased greatly through this reading. However, I still did not get the whole experience of this book, there is much more to it th In Poetics, Aristotle attempts an analysis of poetry, mainly tragedy and epic poetry. It is nothing short of surprising what this work is, whatever I expected to find, it is not what I ended up finding. Poetics is surprisingly simple, considering its age and the complexity of the subject matter. I think my understanding of the nature of tragedy and epic poems has been increased greatly through this reading. However, I still did not get the whole experience of this book, there is much more to it than a casual read can infer, it requires a reread on my part. Nothing much to add, if you are interested in an old version of literary criticism on poetry, and maybe narratives in general, that is not hard to interpret and is quite rich, read this. Here are some quotes I liked: “Comedy aims at representing men as worse, Tragedy as better than in actual life.” “With respect to the requirement of art, the probable impossible is always preferable to the improbable possible.” “For the essence of a riddle is to express true facts under impossible combinations.”

  27. 5 out of 5

    BookHeroin

    Can't say that was easy, but i can't so it was hard either. It's safe to say, like many people who read this book, that i didn't read this for enjoyment. Surprisingly; i find myself really enjoying everything in it. Very educational and interesting. Anyone who's studying literature or literary criticism NEEDS to read this.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Puella Sole

    Mislim da mi je ovo bilo četvrto čitanje ove knjige. Primjerak koji imam sav je ispodvlačen, a jednom kad naučiš definiciju tragedije ne zaboravljaš je nikad.

  29. 5 out of 5

    David Rodolfo Areyzaga Santana

    You want to understand Greek tragedies? You want to understand epics like The Iliad? You want to understand why some horror films don't work? (Yeah, that too.) You better read Poetics, b-- Sorry, where was I? Kidding aside, this book is essential. If you can read it in Greek, knock yourself out, but if you are like me, and can't read these classical texts in their original language, why not read a wonderful translation. I had the chance to take a look at two translations, and I settled for Robert K You want to understand Greek tragedies? You want to understand epics like The Iliad? You want to understand why some horror films don't work? (Yeah, that too.) You better read Poetics, b-- Sorry, where was I? Kidding aside, this book is essential. If you can read it in Greek, knock yourself out, but if you are like me, and can't read these classical texts in their original language, why not read a wonderful translation. I had the chance to take a look at two translations, and I settled for Robert Kenny's version. It's readable, in the sense that it doesn't use awkward sentence constructions resulting from word-for-word translations, but it is also academic, in the sense that it includes a very informative introduction and notes for those who are interested in reading them. It's the best of both worlds. Not only that, but this edition includes additional essays from authors like Percy B. Shelley and Dorothy L. Sayers that expand on matters presented by this treaty in delightful ways. The Oxford World's Classics Collection has impressed me so far. They choose translators who make interesting choices, and they speak to a large audience without putting a barrier between enjoyment and essential knowledge for those who are interested in literature in general, in rhetorics, or in Greek studies specifically. Now get to read Poetics, bitch. *cue the Britney music*

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ashleigh (a frolic through fiction)

    *Rated 2.5/5 stars

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