Aristotle’s Poetics is one of the earliest surviving works of literary criticism, and I read it over the past couple days. It’s pretty short (the Project Gutenberg version I got came to 60 pages, and that includes the legal notices), but it’s interesting to explore it as a thought exercise.
It’s one of very few surviving texts that is more than two thousand years old, and it’s interesting to see how well it equates to modernity even though many of the terms and concepts that it uses have developed in the time since its writing (though, to be fair, some of this likely also is a factor of translation).
You also don’t need as much information to go into it as I thought would be necessary. Being familiar with Homer is a must, since Aristotle references his work constantly. Other than a very basic knowledge of Greek myth or drama (e.g. to catch references to Oedipus or Medea or the more famous ancient playwrights), nothing more is needed.Read more