Aristotle's Poetics

Aristotle's Poetics: Translated and with a commentary by George Whalley

Translated and with a Commentary by George Whalley
John Baxter
Patrick Atherton
Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Aristotle's Poetics
    Book Description:

    Aristotle's Poetics combines a complete translation of the Poetics with a running commentary, printed on facing pages, that keeps the reader in continuous contact with the linguistic and critical subtleties of the original while highlighting crucial issues for students of literature and literary theory. Whalley's unconventional interpretation emphasizes Aristotle's treatment of art as dynamic process rather than finished product. The volume includes two essays by Whalley in which he outlines his method and purpose. He identifies a deep congruence between Aristotle's understanding of mimesis and Samuel Taylor Coleridge's view of imagination.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6660-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-Viii)
    J.B and P.A.
  4. George Whalley on the Poetics: A Preface
    (pp. ix-xxxvi)
  5. On Translating Aristotle’s Poetics
    (pp. 3-32)

    The obvious question is – why again? Even a select list of English translations in this century makes quite a litany: Butcher, Bywater, Hamilton Fyfe, Lane Cooper, Allan Gilbert, Preston Epps, Seymour Pitcher, L.J. Potts, George Grube, Gerald Else. I admire three or four of these, and decry none of them. While the study of English literature has – in part at least – taken the place of Greek and Latin as a central humanist discipline and literary criticism has tried to assume the role almost of an autonomous discipline, Aristotle’s Poetics has continued to be a document of great...

  6. The Poietic Art
    • A Note on the Text of the Translation
      (pp. 35-38)

      The surviving Greek text of Aristotle’s Poetics is incomplete: the whole section on comedy is lost and there are some lacunae in what is left. The text has also suffered from the accretion of later glosses and interpolations by hands other than Aristotle’s: these have found their way into the text in various ways and are visually indistinguishable from Aristotle’s words. Some of the interpolations are helpful, but many of them are wrongheaded and misleading. In my translation I have omitted all the interpolations which cumulative scholarly authority judges spurious, and have recorded in notes indicated by superscript letters only...

    • Topical Summary
      (pp. 39-43)
    • Translation-and-Commentary
      (pp. 44-139)

      1 The opening words are peri poiētikēs [technēs] – from which the book takes its title. Neither ‘poetry’ nor ‘the art of poetry’ is quite right. The root of poiētikē – poiein (to make, do, fashion, perform) – is a strongly active verb that will dominate the whole discussion in the sense ‘to make’. (Emphatically, it does not mean ‘to create’.) I have written poietic art rather than poetic art, partly to emphasise the sense of ‘making’ (and the poet as ‘maker’), partly as a reminder that Aristotle does not recognise a distinction between ‘art’ and ‘craft’.

      2 Poiēsis, radically...

    • Excursus Notes
      (pp. 140-144)

      Aristotle is discussing the various forms of ‘single’ plot to see which forms arouse pity and terror. Roughly speaking, he considers three of the four permutations produced by an action that, for a ‘good’ man and a ‘bad’ man, leads to a fortunate or disastrous conclusion. Since the quality of the action and the quality of emotional involvement are for Aristotle functions of the quality of the person acting, Aristotle distinguishes the various plot-actions with such emphasis on ‘character’ that some commentators have mistakenly supposed that in this section he was considering ‘character’ rather than ‘plot’. But the structure of...

  7. Appendices
      (pp. 148-148)
      (pp. 149-153)
      (pp. 154-158)
  8. The Aristotle-Coleridge Axis
    (pp. 161-178)
  9. Index
    (pp. 179-186)