The Soul of Poetry Redefined: Vacillations of Mimesis from Aristotle to Romanticism

The Soul of Poetry Redefined: Vacillations of Mimesis from Aristotle to Romanticism

by Mats Malm


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What is the soul of poetry? Perhaps the most influential answer comes from Aristotle’s Poetics, in which the writer regarded poetry as an instance of mimesis, a kind of representation or simulation. However, despite the significance he gave the term, Aristotle's use of the word mimesis was far from unequivocal, and over the centuries that have followed this inconsistency has stimulated a wealth of interpretations and debate. Tracking Poetics from its birth in rhetorical studies to its reception across the centuries until romanticism, Mats Malm here examines the many different ways scholars—from Averroës to Schlegel—have understood mimesis, looking at how these various interpretations have led to very different definitions of the soul of poetry.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9788763537421
Publisher: Museum Tusculanum Press
Publication date: 07/15/2012
Pages: 238
Product dimensions: 6.38(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Mats Malm is professor of comparative literature at the University of Gothenburg.

Table of Contents

Abstract 8

Acknowledgements 9

Introduction 11

The soul of poetry - The definition of mimesis 11

Mimetic variations 13

Overview 17

Chapter 1 Aristotle 23

Two instances of mimesis 23

The issue of lexis 27

Poetics - Rhetoric 31

Plato's Categories 32

Probability - Verisimilitude 33

Verisimilitude in mimesis-composition 33

Verisimilitude in mimesis-representation 35

Points of departure 37


Chapter 2 Averroës's adaptations (12th-13th century) 43

The poetics of visuality 46

The place of metaphor 49

Averroës and the soul 51

The soul of poetry: Muthos replaced by lexis 54

Chapter 3 Mathias Lincopensis: Representation and revelation (14th century) 61

Master Mathias on Literary Presentation 63

From mimesis to Representatio: Fiction boiled down to metaphor 66

Revelation and Poetics 69

Chapter 4 The Italian Renaissance (16th-17th century) 75

Robortello 78

Castelvetro 82

Towards a New Poetics of Diction 85

Tesauro 88

Metaphor and imitation 89

The ambiguity of imitation - The ambiguity of verisimisitude 98

Verisimilitude 101

Chapter 5 French Classicism and the necessity of probability (17th century) 103

Corneille 104

Racine 107

Chapter 6 The principle and polemics of the fine arts (18th century) 111

Charles Batteux: The fine arts reduced to a single principle 114

Fiction - Representation 116

Poësie des choses and poësie du style 118

Schlegel's critique 121

Chapter 7 The nachleben of imitation (early 19th century) 131

Beyond Aristotelian concepts

Chapter 8 The technique of the sublime (3rd-18th century) 139

The explicit argument 142

The implicit argument 146

The figure of the sublime 149

The terminology of the sublime 151

Fantasy merges with fantasy 154

Chapter 9 The symbol and the categories of rhetoric 157

Definitions of the symbol 159

Outside the system of tropes 162

The word symbol 165

Poetry, painting, symbolism and visuality 167

Chapter 10 Emotions and the system of genres 171

The instrumental emotions 172

The emotions turned into objects of poetry 176

Emotuibs and media 178

Rhetoric applied onto painting 180

From Instrument of object - to soul 183

Conclusion 187

Notes 195

Bibliography 225

Index 235

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