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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars

on 16 July 2017
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on 3 July 2013
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on 7 January 2008
I do not think it is necessary here to reiterate the timelessness and importance of The Poetics on Western Theatre and writing.

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
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on 6 February 2015
Arrived. Great condition.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 7 November 2015
This is certainly an improvement on the previous Penguin Classics, thanks to Heath's helpful and very readable introduction. And it is a very important book, since unlike his mentor Plato, Aristotle did not wish to ban artists from the state as bad for morale and for providing copies of a world itself a copy of the timeless Forms. No, Aristrotle not only welcomed artists, he explains why in very brief compass here. This book deals with tragedy - the late Umberto Eco posited a 'lost' companion volume on comedy! - and shows that it has a social function since citizens watching a tragic play, conforming to the so-called 'unities' of Time, Place and Actions (all explaied here and not difficult) which allows the audience to feel fear and pity and be purged by so-doing and better citizens for it. This is a crucial work in the theory of art and marks an ideal point to begin, as the translation is clear and you will have much to ponder. At least you will see why Aristotle will not deny artists a place in his city-state and, as a teacher (not least of Alexander the Great) he explains his ideas succinctly and has been extremely influential.
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on 11 March 2010
As the shortest book I've got on my literature student bookshelf, this Dover Thrift Edition Poetics is the cheapest, and most flimsy, but completely worthwhile book.

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.
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on 27 May 2006
It would have got 5 stars but I deducted a star for its awkward prose.

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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on 18 May 2011
This book (or perhaps just a portion of Aristotle's lecture notes) remains the acorn of an oak of subjects, from art criticism to playwriting to poetry. This is a clear, accurate translation (it helped me pass a test in Ancient Greek; and people who really know assure me)
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on 29 April 2013
Anyone studying literature or drama in particular needs to have read this book. It is the ultimate reference work for serious students, and the language is so straightforward and clear that it reads as if it were a contemporary work, and not the millennia-old masterpiece that it really is.
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on 12 October 2002
If you have an interest in writing, or in Literature, or even philosophy or psychology, then Aristotle's Poetics is a very good book for you to read: Aristotle had a burning desire to understand the drives and ambitions of human beings -- he yearned to understand the human world. In the book, Malcolm Heath explains (very well, I might add) the thoughts of Aristotle, concerning his understanding of the human necessity for expression. If you want to be a writer, or want to comprehend the roots of Literature, Poetics is a vital source of essential and fundamental information. Heath additionally refers to many of Aristotle's other notes in order to present an unbiased and comprehensive case. I very much recommend this book to anyone, especially those who wish to write fiction.
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