The Origins of Criticism: Literary Culture and Poetic Theory in Classical Greece

Princeton University Press
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By "literary criticism" we usually mean a self-conscious act involving the technical and aesthetic appraisal, by individuals, of autonomous works of art. Aristotle and Plato come to mind. The word "social" does not. Yet, as this book shows, it should--if, that is, we wish to understand where literary criticism as we think of it today came from. Andrew Ford offers a new understanding of the development of criticism, demonstrating that its roots stretch back long before the sophists to public commentary on the performance of songs and poems in the preliterary era of ancient Greece. He pinpoints when and how, later in the Greek tradition than is usually assumed, poetry was studied as a discipline with its own principles and methods.

The Origins of Criticism complements the usual, history-of-ideas approach to the topic precisely by treating criticism as a social as well as a theoretical activity. With unprecedented and penetrating detail, Ford considers varying scholarly interpretations of the key texts discussed. Examining Greek discussions of poetry from the late sixth century B.C. through the rise of poetics in the late fourth, he asks when we first can recognize anything like the modern notions of literature as imaginative writing and of literary criticism as a special knowledge of such writing.

Serving as a monumental preface to Aristotle's Poetics, this book allows readers to discern the emergence, within the manifold activities that might be called criticism, of the historically specific discourse on poetry that has shaped subsequent Western approaches to literature.

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About the author

Andrew Ford is Professor of Classics at Princeton University. He is the author of Homer: The Poetry of the Past and of numerous articles on Greek literature and literary history.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jan 10, 2009
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Pages
376
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ISBN
9781400825066
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / Ancient & Classical
Literary Criticism / Poetry
Philosophy / History & Surveys / Ancient & Classical
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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In this evocative and moving book, composer and broadcaster Andrew Ford shares the vivid musical experiences – good, bad and occasionally hilarious – that have shaped his life.

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‘Andrew Ford is one of the greatest music broadcasters around – and not just in Australia – yet The Memory of Music shows that he is much more than that. What is most striking is the extraordinary honesty in the way that he opens up how a composer really works and thinks, and the detail of a composer’s everyday concerns – the ways that real life impinges on the artistic process. Having spent a lifetime in music myself, this book rings more true than anything else I have read. It’s beautifully written, the prose flows effortlessly, and it’s from the heart.’ —Gavin Bryars

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In Gregory Hays’s new translation—the first in thirty-five years—Marcus’s thoughts speak with a new immediacy. In fresh and unencumbered English, Hays vividly conveys the spareness and compression of the original Greek text. Never before have Marcus’s insights been so directly and powerfully presented.

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In this evocative and moving book, composer and broadcaster Andrew Ford shares the vivid musical experiences – good, bad and occasionally hilarious – that have shaped his life.

Ford’s musical journey has traversed genres and continents, and his loves are broad and deep. The Memory of Music takes us from his childhood obsession with the Beatles to his passion for Beethoven, Brahms, Vaughan Williams, Stockhausen and Birtwistle, and to his work as a composer, choral conductor, concert promoter, critic, university teacher and radio presenter.

The Memory of Music is more than a wonderful memoir – it also explores the nature and purpose of music: what it is, why it means so much to us and how it shapes our worlds. The result is a captivating work that will appeal to music lovers everywhere.

‘Andrew Ford’s wide-ranging musical autobiography is a pleasure to read. Accessible, informative and packed with anecdotes, it’s an excellent guide to the life of a composer: what it entails, what matters, and how and why it happened in the first place.’ —Steven Isserlis

‘I love discovering how people become who they are. Andrew Ford’s book took me into a new world: composition. His insight into how we talk about music and what it brings up for people is fascinating.’ —Julia Zemiro

‘Andrew Ford is one of the greatest music broadcasters around – and not just in Australia – yet The Memory of Music shows that he is much more than that. What is most striking is the extraordinary honesty in the way that he opens up how a composer really works and thinks, and the detail of a composer’s everyday concerns – the ways that real life impinges on the artistic process. Having spent a lifetime in music myself, this book rings more true than anything else I have read. It’s beautifully written, the prose flows effortlessly, and it’s from the heart.’ —Gavin Bryars

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