Aristotle: Poetics

Overview

The "Poetics" contains Aristotle's observations on what elements and characteristics comprised the best tragedies based on the ones he'd presumably seen or read. He divides "poetry," which could be defined as imitations of human experience, into tragedy, comedy, and epic, and explains the differences between these forms, although comedy is not covered in detail and tragedy gets the most treatment. Tragedy, Aristotle states, seeks to imitate the matters of superior people, while comedy seeks to imitate the matters...
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Aristotle: Poetics

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Overview

The "Poetics" contains Aristotle's observations on what elements and characteristics comprised the best tragedies based on the ones he'd presumably seen or read. He divides "poetry," which could be defined as imitations of human experience, into tragedy, comedy, and epic, and explains the differences between these forms, although comedy is not covered in detail and tragedy gets the most treatment. Tragedy, Aristotle states, seeks to imitate the matters of superior people, while comedy seeks to imitate the matters of inferior people. To Aristotle, the most important constituent of tragedy is plot, and successful plots require that the sequence of events be necessary (required to happen to advance the story logically and rationally) and probable (likely to happen given the circumstances). Any plot that does not feature such a necessary and probable sequence of events is deemed faulty. Reversals and recognitions are plot devices by which tragedy sways emotions, particularly those that induce "pity and fear," as is astonishment, which is the effect produced when the unexpected happens. Aristotle discusses the best kinds of tragic plots, the kinds of characters that are required, and how their fortunes should change over the course of the plot for optimum tragic effect. With regard to poetic language or "diction," Aristotle emphasizes the importance of figurative language (metaphor, analogy) in poetry and the importance of balancing figurative with literal language. It is his opinion that metaphoric invention is a natural ability and not something that can be taught. Of all the poets Aristotle mentions who exemplify the ideals proposed in the "Poetics," Homer draws the most praise. A work that is scant in volume but rich in ideas, the "Poetics" demands to be read by all those interested in ancient thought on literature.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This useful book, an extended study of the Poetics , treats such subjects as Aristotle's general aesthetic views; mimesis; pity, fear, and katharsis; recognition, reversal, and hamartia; tragic misfortune; the nontragic genres; and the historical influence of the work. Aristotle emerges as holding a deeply cognitivist view of poetry and as rejecting the attempt to judge art primarily by external (e.g., moral, political) criteria; his call for the relative autonomy of art, however, neither commits him to an aestheticist view nor prevents him from attributing to art a significant moral dimension. Halliwell's attempts to keep Plato in close view and to keep the Poetics within the context of Aristotle's philosophy as a whole are illuminating. For academic collections. Richard Hogan, Philosophy Dept., Southeastern Massachusetts Univ., N. Dartmouth
Booknews
Pivoting on the argument that at its heart lies a philosophical urge to work out a secularized understanding of Greek tragedy, Halliwell (Greek, U. of St. Andrews, Scotland) offers a sustained interpretation of the . He assumes no knowledge of Greek. The 1986 edition published by Gerald Duckworth and Company is here reprinted with a new introduction. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknew.com)
B. R. Rees
A work which must become essential reading no only for all serious students of the Poetics, including those who, like [this] reviewer, have dabbled in it from time to time, but also for those (the great majority) who have prudenty fought shy of it altogether.
Classical Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451584530
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Publication date: 4/2/2010
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 441,594
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 5.80 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction to 1998 edition
Abbreviations
I The Setting of the Poetics 1
II Aristotle's Aesthetics 1: Art and its Pleasure 42
III Aristotle's Aesthetics 2: Craft, Nature and Unity in Art 82
IV Mimesis 109
V Action and Character 138
VI Tragedy and the Emotions 168
VII Fallibility & Misfortune: The Secularisation of the Tragic 202
VIII The Chorus of Tragedy 238
IX Epic, Comedy and Other Genres 253
X Influence & Status: the Nachleben of the Poetics 286
App. 1 The Date of the Poetics 324
App. 2 The Poetics and Plato 331
App. 3 Drama in the Theatre: Aristotle on Spectacle (opsis) 337
App. 4 Aristotle on Language (lexis) 344
App. 5 Interpretations of katharsis 350
Bibliography 357
Index 365
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