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

By Benedetto Croce; Giovanni Gullace | Go to book overview

III
Criticism and History of Poetry

1. The judgment of Poetry As a Synthesis of Sensibility and Thought
In the arguments developed so far, the whole pro-
cess of creation and re-creation has been rigorously
kept, as it ought to be, within the intuitive sphere, in
which it alone takes place and in which reflection (that
is, thought) is absent; for when thought seems to in-
tervene in directing the work of philology or in elimi-
nating theoretical biases and prejudices, it acts not on
poetry, but on obstacles of a conceptual nature which
eventually may hinder its course and its comprehen-
sion and is therefore always external to poetry.
Only with the judgment or criticism of poetry, with
true criticism, distinct from the immediate conscious-
ness of the beautiful and the ugly, does one move into
the sphere of thought and logic; and the concepts we
have been establishing, as well as the others we shall
establish further on, and in general all of the concepts
of philosophy which are useless to the poet, the evoca-
tor, and the lover of poetry become now essential and
vital because it is impossible to judge without cate-
gories of judgment.
Nevertheless, one may ask: "Why judge poetry: is
it not enough to create and enjoy it?" To this question
there is no better answer than to raise the same ques-
tion in a more general way: "Why judge things: why
does man think?" Put in these terms the question calls
for no answer, because this would amount to asking
why man is man and reality, reality.The contumelies against criticism. These contumelies
On the other hand, we cannot allow those who en- suffer somewhat from banality; but, since in our text
joy neither thinking nor judging poetry to confine we have recalled some of Victor Hugo's, we add the
themselves to producing and enjoying it; and we can- following of Flaubert's, which is a little wittier: "On

-119-

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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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