Of all the writings on theory and aesthetics—ancient, medieval, or modern—the most important is indisputably Aristotle’s Poetics, the first philosophical treatise to propound a theory of literature. In the Poetics, Aristotle writes that he will speak of comedy—but there is no further mention of comedy. Aristotle writes also that he will address catharsis and an analysis of what is funny. But he does not actually address any of those ideas. The surviving Poetics is incomplete. Until today. Here, Walter Watson offers a new interpretation of the lost second book of Aristotle's Poetics. Based on Richard Janko’s philological reconstruction of the epitome, a summary first recovered in 1839 and hotly contested thereafter, Watson mounts a compelling philosophical argument that places the statements of this summary of the Aristotelian text in their true context. Watson renders lucid and complete explanations of Aristotle’s ideas about catharsis, comedy, and a summary account of the different types of poetry, ideas that influenced not only Cicero’s theory of the ridiculous, but also Freud’s theory of jokes, humor, and the comic. Finally, more than two millennia after it was first written, and after five hundred years of scrutiny, Aristotle’s Poetics is more complete than ever before. Here, at last, Aristotle’s lost second book is found again.
In this, the fullest, sustained interpretation of Aristotle's Poetics available in English, Stephen Halliwell demonstrates that the Poetics, despite its laconic brevity, is a coherent statement of a challenging theory of poetic art, and it hints towards a theory of mimetic art in general. Assessing this theory against the background of earlier Greek views on poetry and art, particularly Plato's, Halliwell goes further than any previous author in setting Aristotle's ideas in the wider context of his philosophical system. The core of the book is a fresh appraisal of Aristotle's view of tragic drama, in which Halliwell contends that at the heart of the Poetics lies a philosophical urge to instill a secularized understanding of Greek tragedy. "Essential reading not only for all serious students of the Poetics . . . but also for those—the great majority—who have prudently fought shy of it altogether."—B. R. Rees, Classical Review "A splendid work of scholarship and analysis . . . a brilliant interpretation."—Alexander Nehamas, Times Literary Supplement
George Whalley's English translation of the Poetics breathes new life into the study of Aristotle's aesthetics by allowing the English-speaking student to experience the dynamic quality characteristic of Aristotle's arguments in the original Greek.
'What is poetry, how many kinds of it are there, and what are their specific effects?' Aristotle's Poetics is the most influential book on poetry ever written. A founding text of European aesthetics and literary criticism, from it stems much of our modern understanding of the creation and impact of imaginative writing, including poetry, drama, and fiction. For Aristotle, the art of representation conveys universal truths which we can appreciate more easily than the lessons of history or philosophy. In his short treatise Aristotle discusses the origins of poetry and its early development, the nature of tragedy and plot, and offers practical advice to playwrights. This new translation by Anthony Kenny is accompanied by associated material from Plato and a range of responses from more modern literary practitioners: Sir Philip Sidney, P. B. Shelley, and Dorothy L. Sayers. The book includes a wide-ranging introduction and notes, making this the most accessible and attractive modern edition. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.