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Aristotle's Poetics

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 27 January 2011

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss Aristotle's Poetics. The Poetics is, as far as we know, the first ever work of literary theory. Written in the 4th century BC, it is the work of a scholar who was also a biologist, and treats literary works with the detached analytical eye of a scientist. Aristotle examines drama and epic poetry, and how they achieve their effects; he analyses tragedy and the ways in which it plays on our emotions. Many of the ideas he articulates, such as catharsis, have remained in our critical vocabulary ever since. The book also contains an impassioned defence of poetry, which had been attacked by other thinkers, including Aristotle's own teacher Plato.Translated by medieval Arab scholars, the Poetics was rediscovered in Europe during the Renaissance and became a playwriting manual for many dramatists of the era. Today it remains a standard text for would-be Hollywood screenwriters.With:Angie HobbsAssociate Professor of Philosophy and Senior Fellow in the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of WarwickNick LoweReader in Classical Literature at Royal Holloway, University of LondonStephen HalliwellProfessor of Greek at the University of St AndrewsProducer: Thomas Morris.

  • FURTHER READING

    TRANSLATIONS OF POETICS:

    Richard Janko, 'Aristotle’s Poetics' (Hackett, 1987)

    Malcolm Heath, 'Aristotle’s Poetics' (Penguin, 1996)

    S. Halliwell, 'Aristotle's Poetics' (Duckworth 1986)

    Aristotle, 'Poetics', Longinus, 'On the Sublime', Demetrius 'On Style' (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1995)

    S. Halliwell, 'Aristotle's Poetics' (Duckworth 1986, new edn. 1998)

    OTHER WORKS ON POETICS:

    D. Russell and M. Winterbottom, eds., 'Ancient Literary Criticism' (Oxford UP, 1972)

    T.S. Dorsch, 'Aristotle/ Horace/ Longinus: Classical Literary Criticism' (translation with introduction) (Penguin Classics, 2000)

    P. Murray, ed., 'Classical Literary Criticism', 2nd edn. (Penguin, 2004)

    S. Halliwell, 'The Aesthetics of Mimesis: Ancient Texts and Modern Problems' (Princeton UP, 2002)

    O. Andersen and J. Haarberg, eds., 'Making Sense of Aristotle: Essays in Poetics' (Duckworth, 2001)

    N. J. Lowe, 'The Classical Plot and the Invention of Western Narrative' (Cambridge UP, 2000)

    Jonathan Barnes, 'Aristotle: A Very Short Introduction' (Oxford, 2000)

    Richard Janko, 'Aristotle on Comedy' (Duckworth, 1984)

    A. Rorty, ed., 'Essays on Aristotle's Poetics' (Princeton UP, 1992)

    T. Cave, 'Recognitions: a Study in Poetics' (Oxford UP, 1988)

    A. Hiltunen, 'Aristotle in Hollywood' (Intellect Books, 2001)

    M. Tierno, 'Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters' (Hyperion, 2002)

    Elizabeth Belfiore, 'Tragic Pleasures: Aristotle on Plot and Emotion' (Princeton University Press, 1992)

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