Catharsis in Literature

Catharsis in Literature

Catharsis in Literature

Catharsis in Literature

Synopsis

Catharsis in Literature investigates the development of the meanings of interpretations of catharsis from the ancient Greeks down to the nineteenth century. An original view of catharsis which considers the roles of emotional involvement and cognition.

Excerpt

There is no hope in returning to a traditional faith after it has once been abandoned, since the essential condition in the holder of a traditional faith is that he should not know he is a traditionalist.

--AL GHAZALI

CATHARSIS AS a literary term designating the effects of tragedy on its spectators primarily originates in Aristotle Poetics. The term and its meanings have been a subject of endless controversy through the history of literary theory and aesthetics. Catharsis is a valid and important concept that forces itself into every major critical debate.

The history of literary criticism is not a history governed by abrupt changes, or by the domination of certain literary critics. Rather, it is a history of the contested meanings of basic concepts, such as catharsis, mimesis, and the sublime, or of certain debatable topics, such as the importance of science over literature, reason over imagination, the relation of literature to thought in general, and whether the aim of literature is to please or instruct (and how such pleasure and instruction take place). All these concepts and topics, like chameleons, change their guises in different ages. Some concepts assume new names; some topics come to . . .

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