Breviary of Aesthetics: Four Lectures by Benedetto Croce

By Benedetto Croce

Benedetto Croce (1866-1952) used to be one of the most vital of these philosophers of the 20 th century who grappled with problems with natural aesthetics. The sequence of lectures written in 1912 because the inaugural handle of the Rice Institute in Texas and picked up below the identify Breviario di estetica (Breviary of Aesthetics) is certainly Croce's definitive examine of the humanities, and the paintings is still foundational within the philosophy of aesthetics to at the present time. it's been translated into numerous languages and maintains to draw a large readership.

In this version, the Breviary of Aesthetics is gifted in a new English translation and followed via informative endnotes that debate a few of the philosophers, writers, and works stated by means of Croce in his unique textual content. the recent translation intentionally preserves the idiosyncratic use of language for which Croce used to be recognized, and emphasizes his writing kind, which, including that of Galileo Galilei, is taken into account to be one of the such a lot lucid in Italian literature. An advent through Remo Bodei discusses the wider effect of the paintings and locations it in ancient context. in brief, this variation reintroduces a seminal textual content on aesthetics to a brand new iteration of English-speaking readers, and represents an important contribution to the Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian Library series.

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Sample text

We can say the answer to this question becomes apparent, as a result, from the examination of the greatest of rivalries known between tendencies in the field of art (and which does not appear only in the age from which it took its name, and in which it prevailed): the conflict between romanticism and classicism. ’ romanticism asks of art, above all, spontaneous and violent outbursts of feelings, love and hate, anguish and joy, desperation and elation, and is readily contented and pleased with hazy, indistinct images with a fragmented and implied style, with vague suggestions, with inexact phrases, with powerful and murky sketches; whereas, classicism loves the calm soul, the learned design, precisely sketched character studies, deliberation, balance, clarity.

The words ‘intuition,’ ‘vision,’ ‘contemplation,’ ‘fancy,’8 ‘imagination,’9 ‘depiction,’ ‘representation,’ and the like continuously return almost synonymously in discussions on art, and all bring to mind the same concept, or the same realm of concepts, an indication of universal consensus. Yet this response of mine, that art is intuition, draws both strength and meaning from all that it implicitly negates and from which it distinguishes art. But which negations does it include? I will indicate the main ones, or at least the ones that for us, at this moment in our culture, are the most important.

The more profound problem that underlies the formula, which I initially presented somewhat superficially, is therefore: what task awaits the pure image in the life of the spirit? Or (which in the end means the same thing): how is a pure image born? Every brilliant work of art sparks a long line of imitators who, in fact, repeat, chop up, combine, and mechanically exaggerate that work, and they represent the part of imagination that moves toward or against fancy. ’ torment? To clarify this point, we must still examine further the character of fancy and of pure intuition.

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