Aristotles Poetics: Translation and Analysis

Overview

Introduced by Francis Fergusson, the Poetics, written in the fourth century B.C., is still an essential study of the art of drama, indeed the most fundamental one we have. It has been used by both playwrights and theorists of many periods, and interpreted, in the course of its two thousand years of life, in various ways. The literature which has accumulated around it is, as Mr. Fergusson points out, "full of disputes so erudite that the nonspecialist can only look on in respectful silence." But the Poetics itself...

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Overview

Introduced by Francis Fergusson, the Poetics, written in the fourth century B.C., is still an essential study of the art of drama, indeed the most fundamental one we have. It has been used by both playwrights and theorists of many periods, and interpreted, in the course of its two thousand years of life, in various ways. The literature which has accumulated around it is, as Mr. Fergusson points out, "full of disputes so erudite that the nonspecialist can only look on in respectful silence." But the Poetics itself is still with us, in all its suggestiveness, for the modern reader to make use of in his turn and for his own purposes.

Francis Fergusson's lucid, informative, and entertaining Introduction will prove invaluable to anyone who wishes to understand and appreciate the Poetics. Using Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, as Aristotle did, to illustrate his analysis, Mr. Fergusson pints out that Aristotle did not lay down strict rules, as is often thought: "The Poetics," he says, "is much more like a cookbook than it is like a textbook of elementary engineering." Read in this way, it is an essential guide not only to Sophoclean tragedy, but to the work of so modern a playwright as Bertolt Brecht, who considered his own "epic drama" the first non-Aristotelian form.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A work which must become essential reading not only for all serious students of the Poetics . . . but also for those (the great majority) who have prudenty fought shy of it altogether." —B. R. Rees, Classical Review
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: 9780809005277
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 1/1/1961
  • Series: Mermaid Dramabook Series
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 361,409
  • Product dimensions: 4.59 (w) x 7.27 (h) x 0.35 (d)

Meet the Author

Other works by the renowned classical scholar, translator, and literary critic Francis Fergusson include The Idea of a Theater: A Study of Ten Plays, Sallies of the Mind: Essays, Trope and Allegory: Themes Common to Dante and Shakespeare, and Dante's Drama of the Mind: A Modern Reading of the Purgatorio.

Translator and scholar S. H. Butcher served as editor for the Dover Thift Edition of the Poetics, as well as for the Orationes, Volume 1 by Demosthenes. Butcher is also the author of Aristotle's Theory of Poetry and Fine Art.

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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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