The New Laokoon: An Essay on the Confusion of the Arts

The New Laokoon: An Essay on the Confusion of the Arts

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The New Laokoon: An Essay on the Confusion of the Arts

The New Laokoon: An Essay on the Confusion of the Arts

Read FREE!

Excerpt

The title I have taken for this book expresses my sense of what needs doing rather than what I myself would claim to have done. I have suffered, both in selecting a title and in treating my subject itself, from a certain poverty in our English critical vocabulary. The word genre seems to be gaining some currency in English. The same can scarcely be said of the mélange des genres ; and yet it is around the mélange des genres and allied topics that my main argument revolves. Napoleon is reported to have said to Goethe in the course of a conversation on a problem very similar to the one I have attempted, "Je m'étonne qu'un aussi grand esprit que vous n'aime pas les genres tranchés." I have often been forced to borrow Napoleon's term and speak of the genre tranché, for lack of a suitable English equivalent.

Lessing published his "Laokoon" in 1766, toward the very end of the neo-classical movement. The period of nearly a century and a half that has since elapsed has seen the rise of the great romantic . . .

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