On Poetics
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On Poetics

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  8,026 ratings  ·  319 reviews
Aristotle's much-translated On Poetics is the earliest and arguably the best treatment that we possess of tragedy as a literary form. The late Seth Benardete and Michael Davis have translated it anew with a view to rendering Aristotle's text into English as precisely as possible. A literal translation has long been needed, for in order to excavate the argument of On Poetic...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published July 15th 2002 by St. Augustines Press (first published -335)
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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...more
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.
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.
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...more
Matt
Aristotle says that the exercise of any capacity brings pleasure. Poetry is language made pleasurable in verse form. Aristotle distinguishes the poetic genres of epic poetry (like Homer's Illiad and Odyssey) and tragedy (like the plays of Aeschylus and Sophocles) and comedy (like the plays of Aristophanes). Aristotle only mentions lyric poetry, which is what we normally think of as poetry (like a sonnet). When Aristotle is talking about poetics, we should think of stories in verse form like Shak...more
Chris
Where to start? Honestly, Poetics is one of those books that makes you admire the author while you want to strangle him. This work is highly influential, and you can see its influence in Western Literature in authors such as Shakespeare, Byron, and Miller. It also makes classical literature easy to understand, at least in terms of structure.

In short, if you are interested in literature, you should read this book.

But you will also want to strangle Aristotle. Yes, he's an ancient Greek and woman'...more
Corey
Vonnegut said that this little essay was all any novelist needed to know and I won't argue with Kurt.
Amr Hassan
3.5/5 (S. H. Butcher's translation. PDF)

This is a must read for anyone who studies literature and criticism, especially classical or ancient Greek literature. Aristotle gives his views on Tragedy, it's contents, the plot, characters and compares it to Epic poetry with it's grand themes, elongated structure and multiple plots. Briefly, the book is of great value as one of the first attempts at criticism and it is certainly great content-wise. I found the parts about ancient Greek language to be h...more
Nick Bea
Poetics
Aristotle had many underlying themes hidden throughout this notes that were either deliberate or incidental due to the incoming western ideals of his era. Many times the standard western dichotomies came up in his writings, whether the characters were meant to be “admirable or inferior,” his lectures on Tragedy versus Comedy, or how poetry’s history has been “bifurcated” since the beginning. Also he displays the Grecian’s common “Rule of Three,” he states that “Imitation comes naturally t...more
J.
The 'Poetics' is the earliest known work of literary criticism. It was produced in lecture note form. This slim volume is a good place to start if you are interested in reading Greek dramatic works. This guide resonated in later centuries with renaissance dramatic writers. Information points to the previous existence of a second book that dealt with comedy. (This lost book inspired Umberto Eco). At the time of writing poets recited Homer and other poetic works at religious festivals during drama...more
Jil
Feb 05, 2009 Jil rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: theater history majors, haters of epic poetry
Recommended to Jil by: Good ol' Gregory Moss
Shelves: school
Is it totally sacreligious for me to say that I think Aristotle is kinda wack? I mean, I admire the man - he threw down pretty seriously in SO many major fields, but when it comes to theater, I have some beef with the man.

My dislike stems partially from the fact that I have been introduced to this motherfucker's thoughts about theater in ninth, tenth, and twelfth grade, and now my freshman year of college. I GET IT: THE THREE UNITIES. I GET IT: CATHARSIS. It just seems so antiquated to me, and t...more
Maryanne
Aristotle's Poetics points us to the importance of poetry and art, superior as a speculative and mimetic process in contrast to a hard reliance on history and reproduction. Complicating the difference between imitation (mimesis) and reproduction allows a more muscular approach to increasing pleasure in the act of reading or watching a drama unfold. The same can be said of art.
Wendy
How, you might ask, could someone give Aristotle three stars? Fair enough question. It's the particular role that this translation played in my classroom that I'm giving such a mediocre rating. When I taught a narrative nonfiction class at New College of Florida in Spring 2010, I decided to use this new translation. Big mistake. Somehow, this new translation -- though probably better in many ways -- makes the work much less applicable to narrative nonfiction and dramatic structure than the "Dove...more
Dianna Caley
Aristotle is the polar opposite of poetic and part of me rebels at his clinical dissection and labeling of the component parts of literature. He seems certain that writing great drama is simply a matter of identifying and following THE correct formula. Despite this, as with any autopsy he comes up with some really amazing and insightful discoveries. His discussion on our tendency to use more stresses in our speech when we are speaking was very thought provoking as we're his comments on the value...more
David Withun
Aristotle lays out a theory of drama and poetry that flatly contradicts that of his old teacher Plato. Whereas Plato saw the purpose of such arts as presenting an image for viewers to imitate, Aristotle instead sees these arts as a kind of mass catharsis, a vicarious partaking of an action and its consequent feelings which purges the viewer of the desire to actually engage in such activities as he views. A particularly interesting piece of fuel for thought which Aristotle provides is his idea th...more
Erik Graff
Oct 02, 2013 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Maurice Lieberman
Shelves: literature
Aristotle's Poetics was assigned for freshman Humanities at Grinnell College prior to our reading of Aeschylus and Euripides. We probably also read Sophocles, but my primary memory of him dates from high school. Much, if not all, of my reading of this text occurred en route by bus to Washington, D.C. to demonstrate against the war in Vietnam.

Having students read the Poetics prior to reading the Greek tragedies is probably a good idea as it sets the ground for a discussion, particularly if the pl...more
Tracy
Poetics is to writers what bedrock is to architects. Despite that, while you'll never see an architect deride bedrock for being too rigid and prescriptive, you'll see an endless procession of wannabe writers dismiss Poetics for those same reasons. They would rather pummel it with droning jackhammers or build on quicksand than learn their craft and work from a solid foundation.

The rules Aristotle lays down are meant to be bent or broken, but not ignored. Most great writers understand this, and al...more
Turkish
Основы классического построения и так далее и тому подобное. Поясняет самое простое, что очень тяжело, так как проанализировать, структурировать и выразить столь простое, интуитивно понятное каждому (во всяком случае сейчас) - тяжелый труд. С другой стороны, все эти основы уже давно сотрясаются и ничего поучительного для более-менее образованного человека двадцать первого века здесь Вы не найдете. Проще будет прочитать учебник литературы за 8-10 класс или какое-нибудь "Введение в литературу" для...more
Yasmin
Aristotle's classic 'The Poetics' tells the story of dramatic and literary theory. In the Poetics Aristotle analyzes the theories of poetry and its respective components, mostly focusing on tragedy and epics. In the book, Aristotle defines poetry as imitation, or a hyperbolical view of life. He delves into what makes us feel poems, and how they follow a patter of rhyme and mimicking. He also states how a well-formed plot and a defined beginning, middle, and end are vital to the success of a poem...more
Del Herman
Aristotle was a man a millennium ahead of his time, an all around deep thinker. While his scientific theories hold little weight today, his treatises on poetry, rhetoric, and philosophy are still vital components of Western thought today. Poetics is certainly within this vein, the components of this treatise are the standards by which all basic literature in Western culture would follow. Most of what is presented here is basic knowledge to a 21st Century man (such as that a story must contain a...more
David
Aristotle’s Poetics, translated by Malcolm Heath and published by Penguin in Kindle format, is an important classic with poor eBook formatting. The poor formatting is typical of Penguin but this is worse than usual. The other problem is the lack of activated notes.

The first problem is the left justification. Today, the standard is full justification so there isn’t a ragged right margin. Full justification gives a neater look, especially when hyphenation is turned off.

Lack of activated notes cr...more
Elias Vasilis Kontaxakis
“Nor, again, should it show a thoroughly villainous person falling from good fortune into misfortune: such a structure can contain moral satisfaction, but not pity or terror, for the former is felt for a person undeserving of his misfortune, and the latter for a person like ourselves.”

What makes a good story? An artist would torment themselves over such a question, groping for the soul and essence of a narrative. A scientist would be more productive. With their scalpel they would dissect and lab...more
Brea Mcqueen
He's a bit pretentious...
Majoringinliterature
This is one of the first surviving texts which can be labelled as ‘literary criticism’. In it, Aristotle discusses the writing of poetry in ancient Greece. He defines the different types of poetry (Tragedy, Comedy, and Epic) and the elements which make a successful poem. The Poetics is fairly short, mostly because the second half (which scholars generally agree probably dealt with Comedy) has been lost. The Poetics was very influential in the ancient and medieval world. It’s definitely interesti...more
Anne Nikoline
Feb 08, 2014 Anne Nikoline rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everybody
Recommended to Anne Nikoline by: teachers
Poetics by Aristotle thought me everything I already - or almost already - knew about stories, yet I did not know who came up with this in the first place. What is really fascinating about this non-fiction novel is not how the author believes a story should be like, but more the time, 384 BC – 322 BC, in which he came up with these ideas.
Jim
Aristotle's ideas about plot and character still inform much of literature and cinematic storytelling over 2000 years after he formulated them. It's a challenge to dig the nuggets out, but with a little patience and a good translation there are valuable ideas to be found in this short but influential work.
Matthew Ciaramella
He is a lot like his teacher Plato. Thus I hate them both. Although he did offer one awesome quote "This is why the art of poetry belongs to people who are naturally gifted or mad; of these, the former are adaptable, and the latter are not in their right mind" on page 28
Jyothy Sreedhar
It was the theory of Mimesis that attracted me. The concepts of Aristotle as opposed to Plato were bringing basis for my beliefs about writing. And Aristotle did make it perfectly precise and tight that the theories appear as rather science more than art.
Tyler Windham
"Poetry belongs to people who are naturally gifted or mad"
-Aristotle

It may come as a surprise that the above quote belongs to Aristotle and not James Joyce, or Hemingway, or Mark Twain, as the content of Aristotle's Poetics--the Aristotelian view of aesthetics--surprised me. I must confess the purportedly brilliant philosopher has previously been a perennial source of disappointment for me; I was skeptical of portions of his Ethics, De Anima holds no special place in my affinity, and Politics w...more
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Brain Pain: Aristotle - Poetics - Discussion 1 42 Nov 26, 2011 10:29AM  
  • Phaedrus
  • Ptolemy's Almagest
  • Philoctetes
  • The Enneads
  • Laocoon: An Essay on the Limits of Painting and Poetry
  • Plato I: Euthyphro. Apology. Crito. Phaedo. Phaedrus. (Loeb Classical Library, #36)
  • Hippolytus
  • The Discourses
  • A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful
  • Clouds
  • Critique of Judgment
  • The Way Things Are: The De Rerum Natura
  • Poetry, Language, Thought
  • The Birth of Tragedy
2192
Aristotle (greek: Αριστοτέλης)(384–322 B.C.E.) numbers among the greatest philosophers of all time. Judged solely in terms of his philosophical influence, only Plato is his peer: Aristotle's works shaped centuries of philosophy from Late Antiquity through the Renaissance, and even today continue to be studied with keen, non-antiquarian interest. A prodigious researcher and writer, Aristotle left a...more
More about Aristotle...
Politics The Nicomachean Ethics Metaphysics De Anima (On the Soul) Physics

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“Comedy aims at representing men as worse, Tragedy as better than in actual life.” 84 likes
“With respect to the requirement of art, the probable impossible is always preferable to the improbable possible.” 25 likes
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