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the Iliad remains. Italy may die and, with her, every
memory of Guelf and Ghibelline ; the Divina Commedia
will remain. The content is subject to all the hazards of
history; it is born and it dies; the form is immortal.” "
He held firmly to the independence of art, without which
there can be no AEsthetic ; but he objected to the exaggera-
tion of the formula of art for art's sake in that it tended to
the separation of the artist from life, to the mutilation of
the content and to the conversion of art into a proof of
mere cleverness.”
For De Sanctis, the concept of form was identical with
that of imagination, the faculty of expression or represent-
ation, artistic vision. So much must be said by any one
anxious to express clearly the direction which his thought
was taking. But De Sanctis himself never succeeded in
defining his own theory with scientific exactitude ; and
his asthetic ideas remained the mere sketch of a system
never properly interrelated and deduced. The speculative
tendency shared his attention with many other lively
interests, the desire to understand the concrete, to enjoy
art and rewrite its actual history, to plunge into practical
and political life; so that by turns he was professor, con-
spirator, journalist and statesman. “My mind inclines
to the concrete,” he was wont to say. He philosophized
just so much as was necessary to the acquisition of a point
of view in problems of art, history and life; and, having
procured light for his intellect, found his bearings, derived
some satisfaction from the consciousness of his own
activity, he plunged as quickly as possible into the parti-
cular and the determinate. To immense power of seizing
the truth in the highest general principles was joined a no
less intense abhorrence for the pale region of ideas in
which the philosopher takes an almost ascetic delight.
As critic and historian of literature he is unrivalled. Those
who have compared him with Lessing, Macaulay, Sainte-
Beuve or Taine are making rhetorical comparisons.

+ * Nuovi saggi critici, loc. cit.
* Ibid. and cf. Saggio sul Petrarca, p. 182; also Scritti vari, i. pp.
209-212, 226.

De Sanctis as art-critic.

Gustave Flaubert wrote to George Sand: “In your last letter you speak of criticism, and say you expect it

soon to disappear. I think, on the contrary, that it is .

just appearing over the horizon. Criticism to-day is the
exact opposite of what it was, but that is all. In the days
of Laharpe the critic was a grammarian ; to-day he is a
historian like Sainte-Beuve and Taine. When will he be
an artist, a mere artist, but a real artist P Do you know
a critic who interests himself whole-heartedly in the work
itself 2 They analyse with the greatest delicacy the
historical surroundings of the work and the causes which
produced it : but the underlying poetry and its causes 2
the composition ? the style 2 the author's own point of
view 2 Never. Such a critic must have great imagina-
tion and a great goodness of heart ; I mean an ever-ready
faculty of enthusiasm ; and then, taste; but this last is
so rare, even among the best, that it is never mentioned
nowadays.” . Flaubert's ideal has been worthily reached
by one critic only (that is to say, amongst critics who have
given themselves to the interpretation of great writers and
entire periods of literature) and that one is DeSanctis.” No
literature of any country possesses so perfect a mirror as
that possessed by Italy in the History and the other
critical essays of Francesco de Sanctis.
But the philosopher of art, the aesthetician in De Sanctis
is less great than the critic and historian of literature.
The critic is primary, the philosopher a mere accessory.
The aesthetic observations scattered in aphorisms up and
down his essays and monographs take various colours
from various occasions, and are expressed in uncertain
and often metaphorical language ; this has led to his
being accused of contradictions and inexactitudes which
had no existence in his inmost thought and whose very
appearance vanishes as soon as one takes into account
the particular cases with which he was dealing. But
form, forms, content, the living, the beautiful, natural
beauty, ugliness, fancy, feeling, imagination, the real,

De Sanctis as philosopher.

* Lettres à George Sand, Paris, 1884 (Letter of Feb. 2, 1869), p. 81. * See above, p. 363, the judgement of De S. on French criticism.

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the ideal, and all the other terms which he used with varying signification, demand a science both on which to rest and from which to derive. Meditation on these words stirs up doubts and problems on every side and reveals everywhere gaps and discontinuities. Compared with the few philosophical aestheticians, De Sanctis seems wanting in analysis, in order and in system, and vague in his definitions. But these defects are outweighed by the contact he establishes between the reader and real concrete works of art, and by the feeling for truth which never leaves him. He has, too, the attraction possessed by those writers who lead one on to suspect and to divine new treasures in store beyond what they themselves reveal —living thought, which stimulates living men to pursue and prolong it.

Revival of


WHEN the cry “Away with metaphysic!” was raised
in Germany, and a furious reaction began against the
kind of Walpurgis-night to which the later Hegelians had
reduced the life of science and history, the disciples of
Herbart came to the front and seemed to ask, with an
insinuating air : “What is all this 2 a rebellion against
Idealism and Metaphysic? why, it is exactly what Herbart
wished and undertook all by himself half a century ago 1
Here we stand, his legitimate descendants, and we offer
you our services as allies. We shall not find it hard to
agree. Our Metaphysic accords with the atomic theory,
our Psychology with mechanism, and our Ethics and
AEsthetic with hedonism.” Herbart himself (had he not
died in 1841) would most likely have spurned these dis-
ciples of his who pandered to popularity, cheapened
metaphysics and gave naturalistic interpretations to his
reals, his representations, his ideas, and all his highest
With the school thus coming into fashion, the Her-
bartian AEsthetic too tried to put on flesh and acquire a
pleasing plumpness so as not to cut too miserable a
figure beside the well-nourished corpora of science launched
upon the world by idealists. The feeding-up process was
accomplished by Robert Zimmermann, professor of
philosophy at Prague and later at Vienna, who, after
years of laborious effort and an introductory sample in
the shape of an ample history of AEsthetic (1858), at

length produced his General AFsthetic as Science of Form in 1865.” This formalistic AEsthetic, born under bad auspices, is a curious example of servile fidelity in externals combined with internal infidelity. Starting from unity, or rather from subordination of Ethics and AEsthetic to a general AEsthetic defined as “a science which treats of the modes by which any given content may acquire the right to arouse approval or disapproval '' (thereby differing from Metaphysic, science of the real, and from Logic, science of right thinking), Zimmermann places such modes in form, that is to say, in the reciprocal relation of elements. A simple mathematical point in space, a simple impression of hearing or sight, a simple note, is in fact neither pleasing nor displeasing: music shows that the judgement of beauty or ugliness always depends on the relation between two notes at least. Now these relations, i.e. forms universally pleasing, cannot be empirically collected by induction ; they must be developed by deduction. By the deductive method it can be demonstrated that the elements of an image, which in themselves are representations, may enter into relations either according to their force (quantity), or according to their nature (quality); whence we have two groups—aesthetic forms of quantity, and aesthetic forms of quality. According to the first, the strong (large) is pleasing in comparison with the weak (small), and these latter are displeasing when set beside the former ; according to the other form, that pleases which is substantially identical in quality (the harmonious), and that displeases which is on the whole diverse (the discordant). But the substantial identity must not be pushed to the point of absolute identity, for in that case the harmony itself would cease to be. From harmonious form is deduced the pleasure of the characteristic or expression ; for what is the characteristic but a relation of prevalent

1 Allgemeine Asthetik als Formwissenschaft, Vienna, 1865; see also Meyer's Konversations - Lexikon (4th ed.), art. Asthetik, by ZimmerIn an Il.

2 immermann.

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