Benedetto Croce's Poetry and Literature: An Introduction to Its Criticism and History

Benedetto Croce's Poetry and Literature: An Introduction to Its Criticism and History

Benedetto Croce's Poetry and Literature: An Introduction to Its Criticism and History

Benedetto Croce's Poetry and Literature: An Introduction to Its Criticism and History

Synopsis

Benedetto Croce's influence pervades Anglo-Saxon culture, but, ironically, before Giovanni Gullace heeded the call of his colleagues and provided this urgently needed translation of La Poesia, speakers of English had no access to Croce's major work and final rendering of his esthetic theory.

Aesthetic, published in 1902 and translated in 1909, represents most of what the English-speaking world knows about Croce's theory. It is, asserts Gullace, "no more than a first sketch of a thought that developed, clarified, and corrected itself through new literary experience and more mature reflection." During the 34 years between Aesthetic and La Poesia (1936), for example, Croce added a striking new element to his thought: the analysis of prose literature.

Gullace's introduction to La Poesia constitutes a major under taking in its own right. It is aimed at acquainting the reader with the evolution of Croce's thought and at explaining the relation ship between this final work and the philosopher's previous work in esthetic theory and literary criticism.

La Poesia is divided into two parts, text and postscripts. The text consists of four chapters: Poetry and Literature; The Life of Poetry; Criticism and History of Poetry; and The Formation of the Poet and the Precepts. Croce saw the postscripts "as a re laxed conversation after the tension of theoretical exposition. In Gullace's translation the text and relevant postscripts appear conveniently side by side in a double column. Gullace has anno tated both text and postscripts.

Excerpt

The guiding idea of this book and its relationship to the Philosophy of Art or Esthetics is clearly explained on the last page. The second part of the volume, which contains the postscripts, may be considered as a relaxed conversation after the tension of the theoretical exposition. It dwells on some particular points in an effort to document, specify, and exemplify them. I felt that this part may be useful to scholars and, therefore, decided to add it.

In writing this book I have constantly kept in mind the teaching I received, since my earliest years, from the works of both Francesco De Sanctis and Giosuè Carducci -- two masters who, in various ways, have contributed to the development of a purer and deeper consciousness of poetry in the Italians. Therefore, my dedication of this book to their memory was a spontaneous act. In the course of my work I felt that I was addressing myself to them, asking questions of them and waiting for their approval of the ideas I was expounding. I kept imagining that I would also have such approval whenever dealing with problems they had never considered or whenever departing from their own conceptions.

Meana di Susa, September 1935.

In the third edition additions were made to the postscripts which constitute the second part of the volume.

B. C.

Naples

May 1942 . . .

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