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Additional info for Language, Truth, and Poetry (Aquinas Lecture 25)
Page 24 proach let me mention Northrop Frye's cultivation of a kind of “literary anthropology, concerned with the way that literature is informed by preliterary categories such as ritual, myth, and folk tale”; Richard Chase's conflation of poetry and myth, already referred to; Leslie Fiedler's notion of the poet as expressing “for a whole society the ritual reasoning of its inarticulate selves”; and finally Carl Jung's assimilation of art to dream and of dream to myth. We are familiar with these views; they meet us even in the pages of popular literary reviews.
Poetic truth is a corollary of poetic beauty. ” This is true enough, but not relevant here; Aristotle is not talking about beauty in this passage—he discusses it in 1450b-1451a. What he says here is that poetry is more philosophical than history because it aims at the universal. Later on in his discussion (p. ” This is to return to Butcher's interpretation, which Else had earlier (p. 302) rejected. For Aristotle's Page 55 It makes a great difference whether the poet seeks the particular for the universal or beholds the universal in the particular.
Such myths as those of racism or sexual innocence, for example, which contaminate science itself, and which abound in our literature, especially today in the novel (cf. D. H. Lawrence), are in reality very different from a return to primitive mentality as that is described by anthropologists. ” When the poet thinks mythically, he must do so as an artist, using the resources of the imagination and of language deliberately, not denaturing them Page 37 to recapture a hypothetical prelogical state.