Review: Poetics ~ Aristotle

poeticsISBN ~ 978-0486295770
Publisher ~ Dover Publications
No. Of Pages ~ 60 pages
Links ~ Amazon

Among the most influential books in Western civilization, the Poetics is really a treatise on fine art. It offers seminal ideas on the nature of drama, tragedy, poetry, music, and more, including such concepts as catharsis, the tragic flaw, unities of time and place and other rules of drama. This inexpensive edition enables readers to enjoy the critical insights of one humanity’s greatest minds laying the foundations for thought about the arts.

3 Thumbs-UpThis little book looks to address the different kinds of poetry, the structure of a good poem, and the division of a poem into its component parts. Aristotle defines poetry as a ‘medium of imitation’ that seeks to represent or duplicate life through character, emotion, or action, he defines poetry very broadly, including epic poetry, tragedy, comedy, dithyrambic poetry, and even some kinds of music; however it also serves as the basis from which all literary criticism arose and it is apparent that some of his ideas have survived the centuries when reading reviews from well-respected personage in this field.

Not my usual book review but I feel that all lovers, be they readers or writers, of literature could benefit from reading this short treatise on literature, rather than it being reserved and known only to those who are studying English Literature at whatever level.

It is not an easy read, but it wasn’t so hard that I felt I was drowning in syrup and, although I did not pick this up for enjoyment I did find myself enjoying most everything in it.  Whilst reading through the pages, it made me begin to examine the yardstick I use for my own review of books, and also the reasoning behind my choice as to whether I read a certain book or not.  From reading this I have come away with the feeling my scope is too narrow, and I need to broaden my reading horizons.  As much as this little book made me think, I can only give it a 3 thumbs rating as there were times when, as much as I liked Aristotle’s point of view, I wanted to choke him like a chicken.

This is a must read for anyone studying literature and literary criticism, but also for those who write as it may open a new direction and thought process to them that they can then apply into their works.