The Soul of Poetry Redefined

Vacillations of Mimesis from Aristotle to Romanticism

Mats Malm

Mats Malm

Distributed for Museum Tusculanum Press

238 pages | 6 3/8 x 9 1/2 | © 2012
Cloth $43.00 ISBN: 9788763537421 Published July 2012 Not for sale in the United Kingdom or Europe

What is the soul of poetry? Perhaps the most influential answer comes from Aristotle’s Poetics, in which the writer regarded poetry as an instance of mimesis, a kind of representation or simulation. However, despite the significance he gave the term, Aristotle's use of the word mimesis was far from unequivocal, and over the centuries that have followed this inconsistency has stimulated a wealth of interpretations and debate. Tracking Poetics from its birth in rhetorical studies to its reception across the centuries until romanticism, Mats Malm here examines the many different ways scholars—from Averroës to Schlegel—have understood mimesis, looking at how these various interpretations have led to very different definitions of the soul of poetry.

P. I. Vieira | Choice
“A valuable contribution to the study of mimesis and of the long-standing influence of Aristotle in Western aesthetics.”
Contents
Abstract
Acknowledgements
Introduction
    The soul of poetry—the definition of mimesis
    Mimetic variations
    Overview

1. Aristotle
    Two instances of mimesis
    Poetics—rhetoric
    Plato’s categories
    Probability—verisimilitude
    Points of departure
ADAPTATIONS
2. Averroës’s adaptation (12th–13th century)
    The poetics of visuality
    The place of metaphor
    Averroës and the soul
    The soul of poetry: muthos replaced by lexis
3. Mathias Lincopensis: Representation and revelation (14th century)
    Master Mathias on literary presentation
    From mimesis to representatio: fiction boiled down to metaphor
    Revelation and poetics
4. The Italian Renaissance (16th–17th century)
    Robortello
    Castelvetro
    Towards a new poetics of diction
    Tesauro
    The ambiguity of imitation—the ambiguity of verisimilitude
5. French classicism and the necessity of probability (17th century)
    Corneille
    Racine
6. The principle and polemics of the fine arts (18th century)
    Charles Batteux: the fine arts reduced to a single principle
    Fiction—representation
    Poësie des choses and poësie du style
    Schlegel’s critique
7. The nachleben of imitation (early 19th century)
BEYOND ARISTOTELIAN CONCEPTS
8. The technique of the sublime (3rd–18th century)

    The explicit argument
    The implicit argument
    The figure of the sublime
    The terminology of the sublime
    Fantasy merges with fantasy
9. The symbol and the categories of rhetoric
    Definitions of the symbol
    Outside the system of tropes
    The word symbol
    Poetry, painting, symbolism and visuality
10. Emotions and the system of genres
    The instrumental emotions
    The emotions turned into objects of poetry
    From instrument to object—to soul

Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index
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