Aesthetic as Science of Expression and General Linguistic

By Benedetto Croce; Douglas Ainslie | Go to book overview

VI
MINOR ÆSTHETIC DOCTRINES OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

THIS step in advance had no immediate effect. The pages in the Scienza nuova devoted to æsthetic doctrine were actually the least read of any in that marvellous book. Not that Vico exercised no influence at all; we shall see that several Italian authors both of his own time and of the generation immediately following show traces of his æthetic ideas; but these traces are all external and material and therefore sterile. Outside Italy the Scienza nuova (already announced by a compatriot in 1726 in the Acta of Leipzig with the graceful comment that magis indulget ingenio quam veritati and the pleasing information that ab ipsis Italis taedio magis quam afiplausu excipitur)1. was mentioned toward the end of the century, as is well known, by Herder, Goethe, and some few others.2. In connection with poetry, especially with the Homeric question, Vico's book was quoted by Friedrich August Wolf, to whom it had been recommended by Cesarotti3. after the publication of the Prolegomena ad Homerum ( 1795), but without any suspicion of the importance of its general doctrine of poetry, of which the Homeric hypothesis was a mere


The influence of Vico.

____________________
1
Vico, Opere, ed. cit. iv. p. 305
2
Herder Briefe zuy Beförderung der Humanität, 1793- 1797, Letter 59; Goethe, Italien. Reise, Mar. 5, 1787
3
Letters from Wolf to Cesarotti, June 5, 1802; in Cesarotti, Opere, vol. xxxviii. pp. 108-112; cf. ibid. pp. 43-44, and vol. xxxvii. pp. 281, 284, 324; cf. on the question of the relations between Wolf and Vico, Croce, Bibliogyafia vichiana, pp. 51, 56-58, and Supplem. pp. 12-14

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