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Panaesthetics: On the Unity and Diversity of the Arts

Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    While comparative literature is a well-recognized field of study, the notion of comparative arts remains unfamiliar to many. In this fascinating book, Daniel Albright addresses the fundamental question of comparative arts: Are there many different arts, or is there one art which takes different forms? He considers various artistic media, especially literature, music, and painting, to discover which aspects of each medium are unique and which can be "translated" from one to another. Can a poem turn into a symphony, or a symphony into a painting?Albright explores how different media interact, as in a drama, when speech, stage decor, and music are co-present, or in a musical composition that employs the collage method of the visual arts. Tracing arguments and questions about the relations among the arts from Aristotle'sPoeticsto the present day, he illuminates the understudied discipline of comparative arts and urges new attention to its riches.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-18764-9
    Subjects: Art & Art History, Philosophy, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Mousike
    (pp. 1-10)

    Music. Musik. Musique. Musica. MyзБіκа.

    These words mean the same thing, and pretty well cover Europe and the Western hemisphere. All are derived from µονσική,mousike—but this Greek word doesn’t mean “music.” It is related to the word for Muse and means anything pertinent to the Muses; therefore it includes not only music but dance, mime, epic poetry, lyric poetry, history, comedy, tragedy, even astronomy. In Roman times the nine Muses were parceled out fairly neatly among these nine arts, one Muse to one art. But earlier, the boundaries of the areas overseen by each Muse to one art....

  5. Part One: Individual Media

    • CHAPTER ONE What Is Literature?
      (pp. 13-45)

      In Molière’sLe bourgeois gentilhomme, M. Jourdain is delighted to discover that he has been speaking prose all his life without even knowing it. Similarly, we might say that we have been writing literature all our lives: sinceliteraturejust meansletters, even a shopping list or a set of instructions for feeding the cat is in the largest sense literature. But we usually reserve the term for something more portentous or pretentious. TheOdysseyand Joyce’sUlyssesare certainly literature; the novels of Norman Mailer are probably literature; Harlequin romances are possibly literature, at least according to advanced literary-critical...

    • CHAPTER TWO What Is Painting?
      (pp. 46-148)

      I begin with two definitions of painting:

      The Art of Painting, is the Art of Representing any Object by Lines drawn upon a flat Superficies, which Lines are afterwards covered with Colours, and those Colours applied with a certain just distribution of Lights and Shades, with a regard to the Rules of Symetry and Perspective; the whole producing a Likeness or true Idæa of the Subject intended. [William Aglionby,Painting in Three Dialogues, 1685]¹

      We should remember that a picture—before being a war horse, a nude woman, a telling some other story—is essentially a flat surface covered with...

    • CHAPTER THREE What Is Music?
      (pp. 149-206)

      There are many theories about the modus and goal of music that stress music’s essentially expressive character. And there are others that stress its essentially inexpressive character—the two most famous are Eduard Hanslick’s formalist definition of music as motion-form perceptible through the ear (tönend bewegte Form) and Stravinsky’s cool statement that “music is, by its very nature, essentially powerless toexpressanything at all, whether a feeling, an attitude of mind, a psychological mood, a phenomenon of nature, etc.”¹ But just as painting is neither essentially representational nor essentially nonrepresentational, so music is neither expressive nor nonexpressive. Expressiveness and...

  6. Part Two: Art Rampant

    • CHAPTER FOUR Nine Definitions
      (pp. 209-218)

      1.MultimedialA multimedial artwork comprises elements of two or more media. An opera is strongly multimedial since it comprises music, text, and decor, and often dance as well; a painting in which a few stray musical notes are depicted is weakly multimedial.

      2.IntermedialAn intermedial artwork is the imaginary artwork generated by the spectator through the interplay of two or more media—the transient, complex thing that is assembled in each spectator’s mind through attention to the elements in different media. An opera is intermedial because it is conceived not solely as its music or its text or...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Wonder and the Sublime
      (pp. 219-233)

      Anything can be lifted (lowered?) into the domain of art simply by the effort of imagination—we live in a world where every object compels imagining and reimagining, because nothing exists entirely where it happens to be. Much of this wonder is preverbal; but wonder is a little scary, and we need to relieve ourselves of wonder by verbalizing it, whether in formal criticism or in subvocal comings to term.

      Still, those who try to eliminate stories and other forms of intermedial translation from the universe of discourse have a point. The effort of New Criticism to eliminate biography, parallel...

    • CHAPTER SIX Pseudomorphoses
      (pp. 234-276)

      The commonest pseudomorphic translations are from literature to picture (as in the case of book illustration, ranging from heroic paintings of biblical or Homeric themes to Gustave Doré’s illustrations of Dante to the drawings published with Dickens novels) and from picture to literature (as in the case of ekphrasis). Here I will treat four of the less common cross-medial thrusts among three important media: from poetry to music; from music to poetry; from painting to music, and from music to painting.

      A song, when completed, is multimedial, since it comprises both words and music. But the task of the composer...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Comparative Arts: Two Conclusions
      (pp. 277-286)

      There is a danger that intermedial exercises will expose the vanity or uselessness of art. I believe that every attempt to interpret, to find meaning, pushes the artwork into some medium other than the one in which it states itself: a poem becomes known through the pictures and the music it rouses in the critic’s imagination, a painting through the words that attempt to describe it, to locate the sources of its power, and so forth. Indeed, the aesthetic phenomenon is most strongly felt when art is liberated from itself, a condition that can happen only through the act of...

  7. NOTES
    (pp. 287-300)
  8. INDEX
    (pp. 301-320)
    (pp. 321-321)