Classic Literary Criticism

I adore my literary criticism course. We started with the Greek/Roman intellectuals and are going to move into Hamlet and The Dead after the midterm this week and until the end of this 10-week span in early June.

We're using Penguin Classics' Classical Literary Criticism as our book for this portion of the term. The ancients' impact on modern thought as it regards literature and criticism are, of course, invaluable. The intellectuals, of course, refer to Homer, Aristotle, Horace, and Longinus.

The fun part for me is that I now better understand some stories my parents used to tell me when I was small, such as the one about the cyclops who got blinded by a hero who told him his name was nobody. When they asked the cyclops who blinded him, he said nobody... for more, see the Odyssey by Homer.

I'm totally getting into the groove of thinking about picking up some of these classics (about time!) and checking out what the greats were all about. I am going to check trusty standby Project Gutenberg on my iPhone's stanza app to try to read these when I have spare moments here and there. Of course, my ideal would be grabbing a print/book of these classics and hitting them hard...but alas, I'm trying to pause my book reading until I'm done with all my class assignments for the various classes I signed up for this semester (2 online, 1 in person, 2 seminars...phew!)

In class we learned several items of vocabulary which form the foundation of modern literary criticism, such as:
  • peripety - change in fortune, reversal
  • mimesis - art imitates nature
  • harmony - relationship of the parts of a work
  • poesis - the whole work
  • poeta - the skills and duties of a poet: delight and teach the audience
  • poema - the technical intricacies of writing a poem
  • heroic couplet - such as those by Alexander Pope, effortless cadence
  • epic - long running saga entailing the activities of a hero
  • tragedy - involving peripety within the noble classes, should realistically express what is likely to happen
  • the 3 tragedists: aeschylus (added second character), sophocles (added a third character for conflict and reduce chorus' role), euripides (principal women characters and intelligent slaves)
and much much more that I need to review in time for Tuesday's miderm (!) exam.
Here's to happy reading :)