In his near-contemporary account of classical 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 Euripides, the Poetics introduces into literary criticism such central concepts as mimesis ('imitation'), hamartia ('error') and katharsis ('purification'). Aristotle explains how the most effective tragedy rely on complication and resolution, recognition and rehearsals, while centring on characters of heroic stature, idealized yet true to life. One of the most powerful, perceptive and influential works of criticism in Western literary history, the Poetics has informed serious thinking about drama ever since.
Malcolm Heath's lucid translation makes the Poetics fully accessible to the modern reader.
About The Author
Aristotle was born at Stageira, in the dominion of the kings of Macedonia, in 384 BC. For twenty years he studied at Athens in the Academy of Plato, on whose death in 347 he left, and, some time later, became tutor of the young Alexander the Great. When Alexander succeeded to the throne of Macedonia in 335, Aristotle returned to Athens and established his school and research institute, the Lyceum, to which his great erudition attracted a large number of scholars.
After Alexander's death in 323, anti-Macedonian feeling drove Aristotle out of Athens, and he fled to Chalcis in Euboea, where he died in 322. His writings, which were of extraordinary range, profoundly affected the whole course of ancient and medieval philosophy, and they are still eagerly studied and debated by philosophers today. Very many of them have survived and among the most famous are the Ethics and the Politics.
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)
Series: Penguin Classics
For Ages: 18+ years old
Number Of Pages: 144
Published: 23rd October 1996
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 12.8 x 0.8
Weight (kg): 0.12