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3.82  ·  Rating details ·  15,886 ratings  ·  739 reviews
‘The plot is the source and the soul of tragedy’

In his near-contemporary account of Greek tragedy, Aristotle examines the dramatic elements of plot, character, language and spectacle that combine to produce pity and fear in the audience, and asks why we derive pleasure from this apparently painful process. Taking examples from the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripide
Kindle Edition, Unabridged Edition, 66 pages
Published February 1st 2012 by Dover Publications (first published -335)
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3.82  · 
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 ·  15,886 ratings  ·  739 reviews

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Glenn Russell
Nov 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

During the golden age of ancient Greece bards roamed the countryside mesmerizing crowds by reciting the epics of Homer. Thousands of men and women gathered and were moved to tears by tragedies performed outside in amphitheaters during sacred festivals. Such an amazingly powerful and profound experience for an entire population. What was going on here; why were people so deeply affected? Well, one of the sharpest, most analytic minds in the history of the West set himself the task of answering ju
Jul 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I just reluctantly gave my copy of Aristotle's Poetics to my son, who recently discovered drama. It is earmarked and highlighted and it guided me through university, telling me what I needed to know about tragedy and its core elements, such as unity of time, place and action.

The reason we started talking about drama was that my son didn't particularly like Emilia Galotti, Lessing's "Bürgerliche Tragödie", and we talked about the strange code of honour that made a father kill his daughter to save
Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
It’s odd that the most ancient essay on literary criticism is one of the easiest to understand. It is so accessible. If you compare this to works by Nietzsche, Hegel and Freud the extremities of this can easily be seen. Aristotle explains his theory in the most basic language possible with no artful language that distances the reader from it. It is completely comprehensive and virtually impossible not to understand. Aristotle was an advocate of presenting his arguments in the most simplest of la ...more
Alok Mishra
Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Had to study this one by Aristotle in the post-graduation syllabus. That time, we could not go beyond the walls of our academic requirements. When the studies came to an official end, the free exploration began and that was the period I not only read but also pondered, enjoyed and relished in the text. It opens up a whole new world in front of the readers who take an interest in literature. Poetics is one of the best attempts at critical theories and it's also the base on which some great litera ...more
Dec 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
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
Bill  Kerwin
Jul 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

If you want to learn about tragedy--or narrative in general--this is still the best place to start.
Luís C.
One of the most "accessible" works of the great philosopher, in Poetics - defined as imitation - after having repudiated comedy ("... comedy, as we have already said, is an imitation of what is worse (than reality), and not in any kind of vice, but rather an imitation of what is ugly, part of which is ridiculous ... "), he sings to us the praises of tragedy:
this one, integrated in the unit of action (it is interesting that the other two units are timid, if not absent) aims to trigger in the soul
Riku Sayuj

This is the best commentary I could find on The Poetics. Bywater's is a much better translation and immensely readable, except for the places where he employs the Greek without transliteration. A good strategy could be to keep to Bywater for a first read, and then use Whalley's idiosyncratic and 'deliberately clumsy' translation while studying his notes. We can even supplement it with the Lucas notes.

The best essay length criticism can be had from Lucas and Else, both of which are referred to of
J.G. Keely
Jan 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, lit-crit
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.
Note on the Texts and Translations
Select Bibliography
A Chronology of Aristotle
Outline of the 'Poetics'

--From Plato, Republic, Books 2, 3, and 10
--Aristotle, Poetics
--From Sir Philip Sidney, An Apology for Poetry
--From P. B. Shelley, A Defence of Poetry
--From D. L. Sayers, 'Aristotle on Detective Fiction'

A Note on Metre
Explanatory Notes
Glossary of Key Terms
Jo (A follower of wizards)
Poetics is the earliest known work of literary criticism. This copy was laid out in lecture note form. Aristotle gives his views on tragedy, the plot, the characters and the content, and then it is compared to epic poetry. Content wise, I think this book is great, but it was just so very boring! I found the parts with the ancient Greek language particularly difficult to read and analyse.
Dec 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is truly astounding, humbling, and semi-surreal to think that after so many years, the continuously strolling and pondering Greek philosopher, Aristotle, is vital and relevant, hundreds of thousands of days after his passing.

To any who claim social progress and technology has changed the world, well I am not so sure.

It appears, time and again, all who we were, are, and will continue to be, is exponentially less significant than we may think.

And it is a wonderful book for playwrights and poets
Aug 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here is a rudimentary tablet of knowledge by one of the greats. First off, it is somewhat incredible to concede the year that this was written, and that almost 2,400 years later we are still eager to explore poetics that are in this aged article so clearly defined.

Aristotle exalts the poet and holds him in the highest esteem. Similarly, I have come to the conclusion that the novelist of literature is the truest of artists, imitating what he sees and ‘painting’ things as how they are, telling it
Rakhi Dalal
Dec 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
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.
Feb 15, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: librivox, 2008, audiobook
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
May 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Vonnegut said that this little essay was all any novelist needed to know and I won't argue with Kurt.
Jan 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Whew. I made it through my first work by Aristotle. If all of his works are written like this, then I don't think it's going to be that bad. My perception was that he was extremely difficult. But just from this work alone, it seems he is just very thorough. A very precise thinker. So if he deals with difficult material, he will do so in such a way that is very clear, and not convoluted. At least, that is the impression so far...

The following example stuck out to me. Let it not be said that Arist
João Fernandes
Despite the importance this book holds as the first attempt at a guide to art and dramatic critic, I think most of Aristotle's points aren't particularly accurate in the current age.

Fortunately for all of us, Art has evolved past form. The passing of time has allowed artists, from dramatists to writers, to break the conventions of past eras.

So no, Aristotle, comedy is no longer about "inferior people" and tragedy about "great people". Nor is Art very logically constructed.

By all means, read th
Dec 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. Aristotle examines specific story forms like an ancient doctor analyzing the construction of the human body. He has great advice, and the relevancy to the modern works I've read surprised me.
belle de jour
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's hard to believe that this formalist approach to literature was actually written in ancient times. also most of his ideas are not accepted in modern literary criticism but nobody can deny the role which Aristotle played in history of literature and criticism. He really tries to define form and structure of literature, different genres, the laws which literary pieces should be written based on. and though it has not been mentioned in the book but it is clearly a critical response to Plato's a ...more
Alina Cătărău
I'm glad that I have finally read Aristotle's Poetics because it is an important essay on writing and performing - actually it's one of the earliest works on literary theory, creative writing and theatre - which shouldn't be read only by actors and those who study literature, but by anyone who considers oneself to be an artist. Besides the wide space dedicated to tragedy and the epic poetry, the Greek philosopher also inserts elements belonging to other arts, such as music and painting.
I'm very
M.L. Rio
Every writer should read this, because a lot Aristotle's rules for good writing are still on point after 2,300 years.
It all started from a meeting with a professdor of my university department when I told her the book I wanted to read about a French thinker and she was like "Why are you reading texts about her and not by her?" This was a question I sometimes would think of but I always felt insufficient and uncomfortable confronting a text by a philosopher; however, the way she put it forward to me I felt super easy, so when I needed to organize my knowledge of the tragedy I decided to go straight to Aristotle ...more
John Hughes
Aug 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Aristotle’s Poetics had a distinct effect on 16th and 17th century poetry and drama, whose views slowly grew into a rigid framework around his “unities” which led to the restrictive element to the tragedies of Louis XIV’s court. It is also likely that it influenced Dante in calling his work a “comedy”.

If you have read Nicomachean Ethics, you will have no problem with the Poetics. I believe the perceived difficulty of the work must come from the myriad of Greek phrases that do not have a direct m
Michael Kress
Aristotle is considered to be one of the most important philosophers of all time, and just about all the philosophy books that I've read have mentioned him, so I felt it was necessary to check out his writings in order to have a deeper understanding of those books as well as developing my own philosophy. But this was a tough read. Although he was Plato's student, there is a huge contrast between their two styles. Plato is more entertaining, while Aristotle is more rigid, devoid of any wit or hum ...more
Can't say that was easy, but i can't so it was hard either. It's safe to say, like many people who read this book, that i didn't read this for enjoyment. Surprisingly; i find myself really enjoying everything in it. Very educational and interesting.
Anyone who's studying literature or literary criticism NEEDS to read this.
Puella Sole
Mar 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mislim da mi je ovo bilo četvrto čitanje ove knjige. Primjerak koji imam sav je ispodvlačen, a jednom kad naučiš definiciju tragedije ne zaboravljaš je nikad.
Mohammed  Bouarrata
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mohammed by: Luís C.
In Poetics, Aristotle attempts an analysis of poetry, mainly tragedy and epic poetry.
It is nothing short of surprising what this work is, whatever I expected to find, it is not what I ended up finding.
Poetics is surprisingly simple, considering its age and the complexity of the subject matter. I think my understanding of the nature of tragedy and epic poems has been increased greatly through this reading. However, I still did not get the whole experience of this book, there is much more to it th
David Rodolfo Areyzaga Santana
You want to understand Greek tragedies? You want to understand epics like The Iliad? You want to understand why some horror films don't work? (Yeah, that too.)
You better read Poetics, b--
Sorry, where was I?

Kidding aside, this book is essential. If you can read it in Greek, knock yourself out, but if you are like me, and can't read these classical texts in their original language, why not read a wonderful translation. I had the chance to take a look at two translations, and I settled for Robert K
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Brain Pain: Aristotle - Poetics - Discussion 1 47 Nov 26, 2011 10:29AM  

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(Greece: Αριστοτέλης)
(Arabic: أرسطوطاليس)
(Bulgarian: Аристотел)
(Russian: Аристотель)
(Ukrainian: Арістотель)
(Alternate European spelling: Aristoteles)

Aristotle (384–322 B.C.) 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,
“Comedy aims at representing men as worse, Tragedy as better than in actual life.” 123 likes
“With respect to the requirement of art, the probable impossible is always preferable to the improbable possible.” 53 likes
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