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
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.
on 19 April 2001
After having studied and been teaching drama for many years, digging through both old and new theories on how to tell a story, I find that the most potent, timeless and usefull version on the theme, is Aristotles update on Plato. Reading about genres of his time is like reading a modern pop-magazine. Taking part of the discission between young and old of that time is a direct comment on todays debate on culture and quality. And the heart of the subject according to Aristotle is the mimetic approach. The first one we know of writing it, still says it best! May the consept of mimesis never die!