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

By Benedetto Croce; Giovanni Gullace | Go to book overview

II
The Life of Poetry

1. The Re-Evocation of Poetry, the Means of Interpretation
Once the poetic expression is formed, the poet re
peats it mentally or rereads it in the written form,
some years or months or days or hours later, when,
through the changing of conditions and times, he has
become other than he was. Now, if this expression
lives again within his changed self, it similarly lives
again in others who are, as it were, himself, because
they are united to him by a common humanity; they
are his contemporaries or his posterity for ever and
ever. This is the eternal rebirth, that is, the re-evoca
tion of poetry.
The re-evocation cannot be effectuated except as a
retracing of the creative process of the poetic expres
sion, and this is generally a role assigned to taste. But
since taste and genius are, as we know, inseparable,
that is, not two but one act in its self-creation (which
is feeling becoming conscious of itself and, in so
doing, creating itself), the re-evocation is to be attrib
uted more exactly to taste-genius, or simply to genius,
which, having created that expression, re-creates it
perpetually.
It is genius which created that expression -- not the
genius of such and such an individual, naturalistically
conceived and limited, but the genius of humanity,The genius of humanity. The joy which everyone feels
which grew through the assimilation of that spiritual in a poem (as though the poem were the reader's own
creation and possesses it now within itself as an inde- work, his own creation) proves that the creator of po-
structible force. Even if it never returned to the lips of etry is not the single individual as such, but the ge-
anyone in the world, it would live nevertheless. It nius of humanity, which lies in everyone. The author
would be like the solitary lamp which, in the words of of On the Sublime notes that "our spirit, when rising
Mrike, was hanging from a light chain in a room high to true sublimity, is filled with a sense of happy
once a nest of pleasure and now deserted, and on its and joyful accomplishment, as if it had itself produced

-84-

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Translator's Preface vii
  • Translator's Acknowledgments xi
  • Translator's Introduction xiii
  • Foreword 3
  • I - Poetry and Literature 5
  • II - The Life of Poetry 84
  • III - Criticism and History of Poetry 119
  • IV - The Formation of the Poet and the Precepts 175
  • Bibliography 203
  • Index 207
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