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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: May ::
Re: Aristotle's Poetics Read By Shakespeare?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1411  Friday, 24 May 2002

From:           Brian Willis <
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Date:           Thursday, 23 May 2002 10:23:57 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 13.1402 Aristotle's Poetics Read By Shakespeare?
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1402 Aristotle's Poetics Read By Shakespeare?

> What is the likelihood that Aristotle's Poetics was
> read by
> Shakespeare?

A great question which raises significant issues, considering how many
of Aristotle's rules Shakespeare broke. His early critics lamented his
disregard for the unities and I believe that Shakespeare placed
character above plot. In other words, the characters drive the plot and
the plot is not primary in importance above character (a debate which
can be argued endlessly). Aristotle warned against that, believing plot
to be of primary importance above everything.

If we knew whether he read Poetics, we could know whether he broke those
rules out of ignorance or out of revolution. Curiously enough,
Shakespeare's two plays that closely follow unity of time, action, and
place are at the beginning of his career and at the end - Comedy of
Errors and The Tempest. An early attempt and a later return to that
structure? An accident? Questions which may never be answered.

Brian Willis

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