Criticism: The Foundations of Modern Literary Judgment

By Mark Schorer; Gordon McKenzie et al. | Go to book overview

those who would persuade you that this heavenly messenger wings her way outside of life altogether, breathing a superfine air, and turning away her head from the truth of things. There is no impression of life, no manner of seeing it and feeling it, to which the plan of the novelist may not offer a place; you have only to remember that talents so dissimilar as those of Alexandre Dumas and Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Gustave Flaubert have worked in this field with equal glory. Do not think too much about optimism and pessimism; try and catch the color of life itself. In France today we see a prodigious effort (that of Emile Zola, to whose solid and serious work no explorer of the capacity of the novel can allude without respect), we see an extraordinary effort, vitiated by a spirit of pessimism on a narrow basis. M. Zola is magnificent, but he strikes an English reader as ignorant; he has an air of working in the dark; if he had as much light as energy, his results would be of the highest value. As for the aberrations of a shallow optimism, the ground (of English fiction especially) is strewn with their brittle particles as with broken glass. If you must indulge in conclusions, let them have the taste of a wide knowledge. Remember that your first duty is to be as complete as possible--to make as perfect a work. Be generous and delicate and pursue the prize."


ANDREW CECIL BRADLEY: Hegel's Theory of Tragedy*

SINCE Aristotle dealt with tragedy, and, as usual drew the main features of his subject with those sure and simple strokes which no later hand has rivalled, the only philosopher who has treated it in a manner both original and searching is Hegel.1 I propose here to give a sketch of Hegel's theory, and to add some remarks upon it. But I cannot possibly do justice in a sketch to a theory which fills many pages of the Aesthetik; which I must tear from its connections with the author's general view of poetry, and with the rest of his philosophy;2 and which I must try to exhibit as far as possible in the language of ordinary literature. To estimate this theory, therefore, from my sketch would be neither safe nor just--all the more because, in the interest of immediate clearness, I have not scrupled to insert without warning various remarks and illustrations for which Hegel is not responsible.

On certain characteristics of tragedy the briefest reminder will suffice. A large part of the nature of this form of drama is common to the drama in all its forms; and of this nothing need be said. It will be agreed, further, that in all tragedy there is some sort of collision or conflict--conflict of feelings, modes of thought, desires, wills, purposes; conflict of persons with one another, or with circumstances, or with themselves; one, several, or all of these kinds

____________________
*
"Hegel's Theory of Tragedy" was first delivered as a lecture in 1901 and later revised for publication in Oxford Lectures on Poetry ( 1909) by A. C. Bradley, from which it is here reprinted by permission of The Macmillan Company of New York, publishers. A. C. Bradley ( 1851- 1934) was also the author of A Commentary on Tennyson's "In Memoriam" ( 1901), Shakespearean Tragedy ( 1904), and A Miscellany ( 1929).
1
See, primarily, Aesthetik, iii. 479-581, and especially 525-581. There is much in Aesthetik, i. 219-306, and a good deal in ii. 1-243, that bears on the subject. See also the section on Greek religion in Religionsphiloso­. phie, ii. 96-156, especially 131-6, 152-6; and the references to the death of Socrates in Geschichte der Philosophie, ii. 81 ff., especially 102-5. The works so far cited all consist of posthumous redactions of lecture-notes. Among works published by Hegel himself, the early essay on "Naturrecht" ( Werke, i. 386ff.), and Phaenomenologie d. Gestes, 320-348, 527-542, deal with or bear on Greek tragedy. See also Rechtsphilosophie, 196, note. There is a note on Wallenstein in Werke, xvii. 411-4. These references are to the second edition of the works cited, where there are two editions.
2
His theory of tragedy is connected with his view of the function of negation in the universe. No statement therefore which ignores his metaphysics and his philosophy of religion can be more than a fragmentary account of that theory.

-55-

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