Critical Theory since Plato to Post-modernism

The Paradox of Acting by Denis Diderot: An Overview

Diderot, in the essay "The Paradox of Acting", dismantles the theoretical distinction between poet, actor, work, and audience. They all, for him work for the unity of the whole. Hazard Adams writes "What the poet experiences and writes about an actor ...More

Discourse on Art by Sir Joshna Reynolds: An Overview

Sir Joshna Reynolds in 'Discourse on Art' seems to build a principle of aesthetics. He refutes the idea that beauty does not follow rule. Rather he puts emphasis on the principles that make a work of art beautiful, the principles that assist “clear ...More


From Laocoon by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing: An Overview

Lessing in his criticism from Laocoon, formulates the fundamental difference between painting, sculpture and poetry. In his view painting employs figures and colors in space, whereas poetry employs articulate sound in time. Thus "painting can imitate ...More

Preface to Shakespeare by Samuel Johnson: An Overview

Johnson's Preface to Shakespeare published in 1765 is a comment on the argument over the ancients and moderns. Johnson forwards his criticism with moral consideration and prescribes imitation which is closer to truth, reality and to the right. Imitat ...More


The Art of Poetry by Nicolas Boileau-Despreaux: An Overview

Boileau's poem, L'Art Poétique (The Art of Poetry) is best read as a sort of codification of French Neo-Classicism as the great French writers practiced it. Boileau in his "The Art of Poetry" states that good sense and rhyme should be in harmonious ...More

Essay on Criticism by Alexander Pope: An Overview

Alexander Pope's "Essay on Criticism" is an ambitious work of art written in heroic couplet. Published in 1711, this poetic essay was a venture to identify and define his own role as a poet and a critic. He strongly puts his ideas on the ongoing ques ...More


..An Essay of Dramatic Poesy by John Dryden: An Overview

An Essay of Dramatic Poesy gives an explicit account of neo-classical theory of art in general. Dryden is a neoclassic critic, and as such he deals in his criticism with issues of form and morality in drama. However, he is not a rule bound critic, ti ...More

Of the Three Unities of Time, Place and Action by Pierre Corneille: An Overview

Pierre Corneille interprets Aristotle and Horace about the three unities of action, time and place. To begin with, there should be unity of action, but that does not mean that tragedy should have only one action on stage, but must have a beginning, m ...More


Answer to Davenant’s Preface to Gondibert by Thomas Hobbes: An Overview

Thomas Hobbes unlike Henry Reynolds sounds like Cartesian (a follower of Descartes) who believes in rationalism and materialism. Going against the outrageous incongruities in fiction either in content of form, Hobbes want to set a boundary of the pos ...More

Mythomystes by Henry Reynolds: An Overview

In "Mythomystes" Henry Reynolds makes a distinction between ancient poets and modern ones and praises the former and hates the latter. In doing so he first takes a brief survey of the nature and value of true poetry. The real forms of true poesy are ...More