Aristotle’s “On Poetics”

Aristotle - On Poetics. A translation by Seth Benardete and Michael Davis. South Bend, IN: St. Augustine's Press, 2002.

The original, Aristotle’s short study of storytelling, written in the fourth century B.C., is the world’s first critical book about the laws of literature. Although the work is 2400 years old, Aristotle’s discussions—Unity of Plot, Reversal of the Situation, Character—though written in the context of ancient Greek Tragedy, Comedy and Epic Poetry, still apply to our modern literary forms. The book is quite short, and Aristotle illuminates his points with clear examples, making the Poetics perfectly readable, the better to impress people at parties when you say, “Of course, as Aristotle says…” This useful book, an extended study of the Poetics , treats such subjects as Aristotle’s general aesthetic views; mimesis; pity, fear, and katharsis; recognition, reversal, and hamartia; tragic misfortune; the nontragic genres; and the historical influence of the work.