The Poetics of Aristotle: Translation and Commentary Paperback – 30 Nov 1987
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From the Back Cover
For each chapter of the Poetics there is a running commentary that explains the structure and detail of Aristotle's argument, attempts to provoke further thought about the work's strengths and weakness, and offers some suggestions on relating the Poetics to later stages of literary theory and practice.
About the Author
Stephen Halliwell is Professor of Greek in the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. He is the author of several books on Plato, Aristotle, and Aristophanes, and, most recently, of Greek Laughter: A Study of Cultural Psychology from Homer to Early Christianity (2008)
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Top customer reviews
A quick note on the Butcher's translation that although it is very to the point easy to understand, it is, in my opinion, oversimplified. Important terminology is missing to be replaced with everyday language.
Maybe this is a plus for some people but I ended up getting another translation to read alongside - this has proven to confirm the previous assessment.
Of course the price of this version is certainly a plus
There's no introduction to the book, just a note about when it was written (circa 330BC) and about Aristotle himself, taking up less than a page. The remaining 60 pages are left to Aristotle.
It's not difficult to read, which was my initial concern. Another review says this translation is simplified, but I would say it's not over simplified- you still need to understand general poetic terms like 'anapaests or trochaic tetrameters' (p22) so don't feel like you need to look for a more academic, archaic, hard to read version.
The content is so short, it's like an essay on how to spot the strengths and weaknesses in plays, and it's not generalised, it's specific- 'Tragedy endeavours, as far as possible, to confine itself to a single revolution of the sun' (p9), which in playwriting books I've read, it takes a whole chapter to say 'you're best off writing a play set within one day, it works better'.
I'm just on my second reading, marking out the important parts I'll need to refer to in future. The paper is cheap and my ink pen goes straight through the paper, pencil doesn't show up well, so am using sticky paper to make notes. It's only short, and it's cheap, and I'd recommend you buy a cheap version rather than paying a lot of money for an introduction that's not needed, because it's not difficult to read.
It is in the middle chapters that this book really delivers. Especially the chapter entitled 'falibility and misfortune'.
A word of warning: you need to read two books before this one:
1: Robert McKee's "Story" because he is effectively a neo-Aristotelian.
2: The original text of the Poetics translated by Malcolm Heath. A nice short book at 70 some pages. This is because Halliwell's book [Aristotle's Poetics] does not contain a translation. To further complicate the issue he has also written a translation which is called "The Poetics of Aristotle: translation and commentary" which obviously DOES contain the translation.
So, if you like Robert McKee, buy this book ie Aritotle's Poetics.
What you will notice from reading this book is how much better McKee is at getting his ideas across.
Spephen Halliwell is very fond of using words and phrases such as 'adduce' 'cogent' and 'the negative corrolary of which'. His sentences are ... very complicated in structure when a more simple and direct style would be appropriate. Believe me, I know becasue that last sentence of mine is lifted straight out of my school report.
So, why should you buy this book after reading McKee?
Because this book analyses tragedy, you'll then need to think about what halliwell states but in McKee terms because they are easier to understand.
eg Unity and variety is basically just the protagonist's superobjective tieing the story together [eg I need to get the treasure/man/woman/revenge/redemption] but Halliwell won't say that.
But it IS worth it - if you want to understand tragedy esp Macbeth with its non-Aristotelian protagonist.
Now, if you really want to understand tragedy you need to also read Stephen Boothe's "King Lear and Macbeth: Indeffinition and Tragedy" - in that book Boothe slaughers Aristotle and he even apologies for it in the preface saying all his students who reviewed his book told him to effectively calm down.
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Delivery was prompt; nice packaging.
Speedy delivery. Aristotle was a genius
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