Aristotle's Poetics

Aristotle's Poetics

Aristotle's Poetics

Aristotle's Poetics

Synopsis

Aristotle's Poetics combines a complete translation of the Poetics with a running commentary, printed on facing pages, that keeps the reader in continuous contact with the linguistic and critical subtleties of the original while highlighting crucial issues for students of literature and literary theory. Whalley's unconventional interpretation emphasizes Aristotle's treatment of art as dynamic process rather than finished product. The volume includes two essays by Whalley in which he outlines his method and purpose. He identifies a deep congruence between Aristotle's understanding of mimesis and Samuel Taylor Coleridge's view of imagination. Whalley's new translation makes a major contribution to the study of not only the Poetics and tragedy but all literature and aesthetics.

Excerpt

George Whalley worked on Aristotle Poetics, in one way or another, for a period of nearly two decades, but the main portion of his project was completed in the late sixties and early seventies. The central work of translation and commentary was substantially complete by 1970. In June of 1969 he delivered a talk at the meetings of the Learned Societies, On Translating Aristotle's Poetics, which was then published in the University of Toronto Quarterly (1970). This was followed by the essay on The Aristotle-Coleridge Axis (University of Toronto Quarterly, 1973).

Why the translation-and-commentary was not published quickly is not finally clear. Robin Strachan, then Director of McGill-Queen's University Press, was very much interested in publishing it, and Whalley himself, in his correspondence from the period, thinks of its appearance in print as imminent. In a general way, it is fairly easy to guess at some of the major reasons for delay. Whalley's standing as a distinguished scholar and a defender of humane studies in the universities, in Canada, and in the rest of the world made for large demands on his time. He continued to work on what was proving to be the monumental task of editing Coleridge's marginalia, and he maintained his interest in the legendary and historical matter of John Hornby by editing the diary of Edgar Christian, published as Death in the Barren Ground (1980). In addition, he was not in the best of health in the years leading up to his own death in 1983.

His numerous scholarly and academic interests, however, should not be thought of as merely deflecting him from the task of Aristotle. The freshness of his approach to the Poetics is intimately related to the breadth of vision that it embodies, and that in turn, of course, is tied . . .

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