Sunday, June 24, 2018

Classical Literary Criticism


Classical Literary Criticism started from the ancient Greek society. The Greek art of imaginative creation, there are a couple of concepts that are very different from our present day ideas.Classical Literary Criticism simply define as the classical ideas and imaginary by some classical thinkers, there is some of very important writers like Aristotle, Plato.
According to the Longman's Dictionary defines 'classical' as being in accordance with ancient Greek or Roman models in literature or art or with later systems and standards based on them, particularly with reference to balance, regularity and simpleness of art, The eight to the fourth centuries B.C. a period yet to be paralleled in the history of human civilization, for its brilliance in literature, philosophy and the visual arts, is normally known as the 'classical age'.

What is Classics?

In the Classical Literary Criticism the 'Classics' are works of fiction, like Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, that are relevant to all ages, through all times. 'Classics' are books that have stood the test of time for their relevance, their universal appeal, simplicity, regularity of form and a sense of beauty and balance. Long before the term literary criticism came into practice, literary theory existed as far back as fourth century B.C.

Plato and Aristotle in Greece shaped the core of Classical Literary Criticism in ancient period. It should however be remembered that the Greeks influenced the Romans as is obvious from the works of Seneca, Virgil and the later twentieth century Greco Roman models used by writers of the French and German courtly romances. The term 'Classical Literary Criticism' means in both the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome, this block will concentrate only on Greek critical theory, for practical purposes and also because Greek civilization is older than its Roman counterpart, and the latter were greatly influenced by the former. In the Classical literary criticism The impact of school of thought is to be felt even today. The Greeks influenced the Romans so much so that the Roman dramatist Seneca, imitated the Greek tragedians and Vigil was influenced by Homer. Aristotle's influence is to be felt, over much drama of the 16th century, right till the 18" century.
Classical influence was strongest in France and England in the 17th and 18th centuries, and in German writers like Goethe, and Schiller, towards the end of the 18th century. In the 20th century, the influence was considerable in French drama, in the plays of Sartre among others.
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Introduction of Plato and Aristotle

For to understand more Classical Literary Criticism, firstly have to understand the Plato and Aristotle, In ancient Greece times, the schools of Philosophy were theoretical training grounds for the young men of city states.' Moreover for them, their interests were not specialized, but they applied their knowledge of philosophy to every kind of subject matter.
At that time the term Rhetoric was more widely recognized than literary theory as some would (like Richard Harland). Moreover it was the rhetoricians who studied rhythm, diction and figurative language, all with a view to create educated young men well trained in the powers of oration. At this juncture, we need not go into a detailed study of the sociopolitical life in those times, suffice it to say that young Greek men were trained under two main schools that of philosophy and rhetoric, the rhetoricians studied 'poiesis' or which is now be termed literary theory or criticism
History Literary Criticism

Plato's Ideas

In the Classical Literary Criticism According to Plato(429-397 B.C.), 'poiesis' or literary theory and criticism was an imitation or, 'mimesis'. Plato called 'poiesis' an mock or 'mimesis' because he supposed drama to be a reproduction of something that is not really in present, and is therefore a 'dramatization of the reproduction'. He means is that in a play or an epic, what happens is this - the poet recreates an experience, the audience watch that re-created experience, they are in fact encouraged to live through that experience. As if they are physically within the time and space of that experience. Not only has this, Plato, also gone on distinguish between 'mimesis' and 'digenesis'.


‘Mimesis' is the kind of speech of a character which straight replicating,' and 'digenesis' is 'a narrating of doings things and sayings when 'the poet speaks about his own personality and never try to turn our focus in another direction by imagining that someone else is speaking’.

Why Plato disapprove of Mimesis?

Plato was a firm believer of the true form. He believed in only the reddest reality. He objected to dramatized dialogue on the grounds that such dramatisation encouraged people to live lives other than their own. Something, parents tell children even today regarding the invasion of cable T.V. Plato was merely warning people against the danger of aping roles blindly, he feared that the influence of mimesis limitation could be so great that it could take over the minds and lives of young impressionable people completely and become of primary importance. Plato was not comfortable with the idea of grief caused by scenes of suffering in the plays. He assumed that a temporary catharsis could infect the audience so strongly that they could become emotionally uncontrollable.
His basic argument against mimesis was the fact that both drama and epic imitate the world of perceptual arrivals. For him, the only reality was that of abstractions. The poet in his eyes, imitated an appearance of the abstraction was hence a derivative of the derivative. Hence thrice removed from reality. 'They are images, not realities'. While the rhetoricians never questioned society on philosophy, Plato was the first serious thinker to question society along theoretical lines, all this is clearly to be seen when one reads his Republic. Continuing from Plato's thought processes and his theory, the Neo-Platonists of the fourth and fifth centuries A.D. interpreted Plato's reality of abstractions to be the Thoughts of God. These theorists seemed to imply that the artists as a whole could perhaps bypass the world of sensory appearances and achieve direct access to the true. Though they did not really contribute to 'poiesis' as such, their interpretations paved the way for the claims of the poets as missionaries and the poet's words as missionary words truth. Plato's works include the Republic, Ion, Cratylus, and the Dialogues of Plato among others.

Aristotle Ideas

Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) was Plato's assistant. But he is differed from Plato, he was more interested in describing and classifying things as they were.

Aristotle Idea of poetry

Aristotle thinks that poetry is 'something philosophical and worthy of serious courtesy than history; for a while poetry is worried with universal truths, historical facts. He also propounded that 'probable impossibilities are to be preferred to improbable possibilities' and that 'a convincing impossibility is preferable to a no convincing possibility.'

Aristotle's theories

Aristotle's theories are related to biological organisms. Just as each species of plant, has its own distinctive principles of growth and fulfilment, so does each genre, thereby suggesting that an epic does not need to live up to the tragedy, or tragedy to comedy. Every genre evolves in itself as do species of plants. What Aristotle does by classifying poetry in this manner, is that he avoids the judging of all works by the same standards and avoids attributing uniquely individual qualities to individual works, but he himself ends up considering tragedy to be superior to epics and the like.

Aristotle’s tragedy

Aristotle’s tragedy stating clearly about how Classical Literary Criticism was being studied by thinkers and that tragedy of Aristotle is superior to the epic, he is largely guided by Sophocle's Oedipus Tyrannous, and makes distinctions within the genre of tragedy. Aristotle believed that both tragedy and the epic should have unity of action whereby the 'various incidents must be so arranged that if any one of them is differently placed or taken way the effect of wholeness will be seriously disrupted.
 He also said that a work of art should be such that it takes into account the capacities and limitations of the spectators the audience. In other words what Aristotle proposed for the tragedy was unity of action, place and time, which was to become famous later as the three unities. Yet another contribution of
Aristotle's was the notion of 'Katharsis' (catharsis) or a 'distinctive emotional response' to be aroused in the audience. What is to be aroused is a pity that arises out of fear, and that too fear with pity as opposed to self-centered fear. He believed that such an evocation of 'pity-charged fear' would imply a sense of awe and of something terrible about to befall the hero. Such contemplation was directly opposed to Plato who rejected both the poet and poetry from his republic, as he felt their presence and their capability in arousing such powerful emotions will reduce people of the Greek city. So for Classical Literary Criticism Aristotle on the other hand believed the recreation of pity and fear to be therapeutic to the audience, to serve as purgation or cleansing and therefore healthy.
Literary Theory & Criticism

Aristotle’s various genres of poetry

Aristotle classifies the various genres of poetry, discusses their nature, the goals to be followed, the appropriate effect of tragedy and then goes on to talk about the , type of tragic hero who could produce this effect. The description of the tragic hero is to be found discussed at length in his Poetics. The appropriate type of hero is 'a man remarkable for neither virtue nor vice, for neither justice nor depravity, but a man whose fall is due to some error or weakness, some hamartia. These classification of poetry gives the real idea for understanding the Classical Literary Criticism.

In the Classical Literary Criticism According to Aristotle's theory, the status of the character must fit in with the actions that are attributed to him, so as to produce the desired emotion effect. Aristotle's discourse is all about the establishing of set goals, and once that has been achieved, he imparts instructions on how to achieve them. The two, Master and Pupil differ largely in their perceptions and understanding of the notion of mimesis. Classical Literary Criticism is objective, an "attempt for expressing countless ideas in a finite form, whereas romanticism is an attempt to express a kind of universal poetry in the creation of which the poet made his own Laws."
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