Aristotle's Poetics is one of the most powerful, perceptive and influential works of criticism in Western literary history. A penetrating, near-contemporary account of Greek tragedy, it demonstrates how the elements of plot, character and spectacle combine to produce 'pity and fear' - and why we derive pleasure from this apparently painful process. It introduces the crucial concepts of mimesis ('imitation'), hamartia ('error') and katharsis, which have informed serious thinking about drama ever since. It examines the mythological heroes, idealized yet true to life, whom Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides brought on to the stage. And it explains how the most effective plays rely on complication and resolution, recognitions and reversals. Essential reading for all students of Greek literature and of the many Renaissance and post-Renaissance writers who consciously adopted Aristotle as a model, the Poetics is equally stimulating for anyone interested in theatre today.
This is a translation of Aristotle's "Poetics", an account of Greek tragedy, which demonstrates how the elements of plot, character and spectacle combine to produce "pity and fear", and why pleasure is derived from this apparently painful process. It introduces the concepts of "mimesis" ("imitation"), "hamartia" ("error") and "katharsis", which have informed thinking about drama ever since. It examines the mythological heroes whom Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripidies brought to the stage, and explains the most effective plays rely on complication and resolution, recognitions and reversals.
Aristotle was born at Stagira, in the dominion of the kings of Macedonia, in 384 BC. For twenty years he studied at Athens in the Academy of Plato. However he left on Plato's death and, some time later, became the tutor of young Alexander The Great.His writings have profoundly affected the whole course of ancient and medieval philosophy, and they are still studied and debated today. Malcolm Heath has been Reader in Greek Language and Literature at Leeds University since 1991.
Aristotle lays down a series of timeless rules regarding plot and structure. Some of what he says may seem self-evident - he defines, for instance, the beginning of a tragedy as that which does not necessarily follow anything else but which necessarily gives rise to further action. Well, duh. Even so, I think a yearly review of Poetics will sharpen anyone's writing. And, hey, if you're going to break the rules, you might as well know which ones you've violated. A writer who can explain the 'why' of a transgression is forging a version of his or her own personal Poetics. (Kirkus UK)
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