A history of literary criticism and theory : from Plato to by M. A. R. Habib

By M. A. R. Habib

This finished consultant to the historical past of literary feedback from antiquity to the current day presents an authoritative evaluation of the main hobbies, figures, and texts of literary feedback, in addition to surveying their cultural, old, and philosophical contexts.

  • Supplies the cultural, ancient and philosophical heritage to the literary feedback of every era
  • Enables scholars to work out the advance of literary feedback in context
  • Organised chronologically, from classical literary feedback via to deconstruction
  • Considers a variety of thinkers and occasions from the French Revolution to Freud’s perspectives on civilization
  • Can be used along any anthology of literary feedback or as a coherent stand-alone introduction

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Like democracy, poetry fosters genuine individuals, “manifold” men who are “stuffed” with differences and resist the reduction of their social function, or indeed their natural potential, into one exclusive dimension. Also, like democracy, poetry nurtures all parts of the soul, refusing obeisance to the law of reason. By implication, then, poetry itself 33 HOLC01b 33 06/27/2005, 10:50 AM part i: ancient greek criticism is spurred by the “greed” for liberty which is the hallmark of a democratic society.

He gives full vent to the “mob” of his unconscious appetites and instincts which know no constraint. Accordingly, tyranny embodies the utmost depths of anarchy and lawlessness. Hence the degeneration from aristocracy through oligarchy to democracy and tyranny represents the collapse not only of the original unity of the state but also, equally importantly, of the unity of the individual into a lawless multiplicity. The unified, integrated person of the aristocracy who enjoyed a harmony between the various “classes” of his soul is fragmented first into the “double” man of oligarchy and then the “manifold” man produced by democracy; finally, even the vestiges of the soul’s structure collapse, in tyranny, into an uncontrollable proliferation of desires, an abyss of irreducible particularity, multiplicity, and relativity.

4 However, there is an intimate connection between Plato’s aesthetics and his formulation of the ideal of justice. Plato’s entire conception of justice arises explicitly in opposition to poetic lore, and the close connection between poetry and justice shapes the entire discussion, in political as well as aesthetic terms. It will be useful to consider three broad issues: (1) how Plato’s commentary on poetry structures the form of his text; (2) the political motivations of Plato’s aesthetics; and (3) the underlying philosophical premises of these aesthetics as well as the contradictions in Plato’s argument.

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