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against rules of style in Berchet's famous Lettera semiseria di Grisostomo (1816); and France made hers somewhat later in Victor Hugo's preface to Cromwell (1827). Henceforth men discussed not the kinds, but Art. What is the unity of ensemble but the demand of art itself, which is always an ensemble, a synthesis? What else is the principle, introduced by August Wilhelm Schlegel and adopted by Manzoni and other Italian romanticists, to the effect that form of component parts must be " organic not mechanical, resulting from the nature of the subject and its interior development . . . not from the impress of an external and extraneous stamp " ?1
But it would be quite wrong to suppose that this Their pervictory over the rhetoric of kinds was either the cause or the consequence of a final victory over its philosophical theories. presuppositions. In pure theory, none of the critics above named wholly abandoned the kinds and the rules. Berchet admitted four elementary forms, that is four fundamental kinds, in poetry; lyrical, didactic, epic and dramatic, claiming for the poet only the right of "uniting and fusing together the elementary forms in a thousand fashions." * Manzoni's only real quarrel was with those rules "founded on special facts instead of on general principles; on the authority of rhetoricians instead of reason." 3 Even De Sanctis was satisfied with a concept somewhat vague, though true enough at bottom: "the most important rules are not those capable of being applied to every content, but those which draw their force ex visceribus caussae, from the very heart of the content itself." 4 Even more diverting than the spectacle which had delighted Home, is the sight of German philosophy according the honour of a dialectical deduction to the empirical classification of kinds. We shall give two examples, each representing one extreme end of the chain: Schelling at the beginning of the century (1803), and Hart- Fr.
1 Manzoni, Epistol. i. pp. 355-356; cf. Lettera sul romanticismo, ibid. pp. 293-299.
• Lettera di Grisostomo, opere, ed. Cusani, p. 227. 9 Lettera sul romanticismo, ibid. p. 280.
* La giovinezza di F. de S. chs. 26-28.
mann at the end (1890). One section of Schelling's Philosophy of Art is devoted to "the construction of individual poetic kinds "; in it he remarks that were he to follow the historical order, Epic would come first; whereas in the scientific order the Lyric occupies the first place: indeed, if poetry is the representation of the infinite in the finite, the Lyric, in which difference prevails (the finite, the subject), is its first moment, corresponding with the first power of the ideal series, reflexion, knowledge, consciousness, whereas Epic corresponds with the second power, action.1 From Epic, which is par excellence the objective kind (as being the identity of subjective and objective), derive the Elegy and the Idyl if subjectivity be placed in the object and objectivity in the poet: if objectivity be placed in the object and subjectivity in the poet, didactic poetry results.2 To these differentiations of the Epic, Schelling adds the romantic or moder n Epic, the poem of chivalry; the novel; and the experiments in an epic of ordinary life such as the Luisa of Voss and the Hermann and Dorothea of Goethe; and, co-ordinate with all the foregoing, the Comedia of Dante, "an epic kind in itself" (eine epische Gattung fur sich). Finally, from the union on a higher plane of Lyric with Epic, liberty with necessity, arises the third form, the Drama, the reconciliation of antitheses in a totality, "supreme incarnation of E. von the essence and the in-itself of all art." 3 In Hartmann's Phiiosophy of ihe Beautiful, poetry is divided into spoken poetry and read poetry. The former is subdivided into Epic, Lyric and Dramatic, with further subdivisions of Epic into plastic Epic, or strictly epic Epic, and pictorial or lyrical Epic; of Lyric into epical Lyric, lyrical Lyric and dramatic Lyric; of Dramatic into lyrical Drama, epic Drama and dramatic Drama. Read poetry (Lesepoesie) is again subdivided into predominantly epical, lyrical or dramatic form with tertiary partitions of the affecting, the comic, the tragic and humorous; and into poems " to be read at a sitting" (like the short story) or
1 Philos. d. Kunst, pp. 639-645. 1 Op. cit. pp. 657-659. 1 Op. tit. p. 687. 1 Philosophie d. Schonen, ch. 2, § 2.
to be taken up again and again (like the novel).1 Without The kinds»» these highly philosophical trivialities the divisions of '*'3choolskinds still wander through the books called Institutions of Literature, written by philologists and men of letters, and the ordinary school-books of Italy, France and Germany; and psychologists and philosophers still persist in writing about the Esthetic of the tragic, of the comic and of the humorous.2 The objectivity of literary kinds is frankly maintained by Ferdinand Brunetiere, who looks on literary history as "the evolution of kinds," 3 and gives sharply denned form to a superstition which, seldom confessed so truthfully or applied so rigorously, survives to contaminate modern literary history.4
The Theory Of The Limits Of The Arts
To Lessing must be ascribed the merit and the sole glory of having discovered that every art has its special character and inviolable limits. But his merit lies not in his own theory, which, in itself, is scarcely tenable,6 but in having, though by an error, aroused discussion of a highly important aesthetical point till then wholly overlooked. After some slight notice from Du Bos and Batteux, some preparation of the field by Diderot 6 and Mendelssohn,7 and long disquisitions by Meier and other Wolffians upon natural and conventional symbols,s Lessing was the first to raise clearly the question of the value attaching to the distinction between the various arts. Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance had enumerated the arts according to denominations of current phraseology, and had composed numbers of technical hand-books distinguishing major and minor arts; but in Aristoxenus or Vitruvius, Marchetto da Padova or Cennino Cennini, Leonardo da Vinci or Leon Battista Alberti, Palladio or Scamozzi, it would be vain to look for the problem proposed by Lessing, for the spirit of these technical treatise-writers is entirely different. Some rudiments of the question may be detected in the comparisons made, and the questions of precedence raised, between poetry and painting or painting and sculpture, to be found now and then in stray paragraphs of their books (Leonardo da Vinci pressed the claims of painting, Michael Angelo those of sculpture): the theme eventually became a favourite one for academic discussion, and was not despised by Galileo himself.1
* See, e.g., Volkelt, Asth. d. Tragischen, Munich, 1897; Lipps, Der Streit fiber Tragodie, etc.
3 See his other works, V Evolution des genres dans I'histoire de la litter ature, Paris, 1890 seqq., and Manuel de I'hist. de la litter, franfaise, ibid., 1898.
4 Croce, Per la storia della critica e storiografia letter, pp. 23-25.
6 See above, pp. 113-115.
• D. Diderot, Lettre sur les aveugles, 1749; Lettre sur les sourds et muets, 1751 ; Essai sur la peinture, 1765.
7 M. Mendelssohn, Briefe fiber Empfind., 1755; Betrachtungen, tit.,
8 J. Chr. Wolfi, Psychol. empirica, §§272-312; Meier, Anfangsgrunde, §§ 513-528, 708-735; Betrachtungen, § 126.
Lessing was induced to raise the question in the attempt to controvert the strange views of Spence concerning the close union between painting and poetry among the ancients, and of Count Caylus, who held that the excellence of a poem must be judged by the number of subjects it offers to the brush of the painter. He was further instigated by the comparisons between poetry and painting upon which were commonly founded the most ridiculous rules for tragedy: the maxim Ut pictura poesis, whose original motive was to emphasize the representative or imaginative character of poetry, and the community of nature among the arts, had been converted by superficial interpretation into a defence of the most vicious intellectualistic and realistic prejudices. Lessing argued in this wise: "If painting in its imitations employs precisely a medium or symbol different from that of poetry (the former employing spatial forms and colours, the latter temporal articulated sounds), since the symbol must certainly be in close relation with that which is signified, coexistent symbols can only express coexistent objects or parts of objects, and consecutive symbols can only express consecutive objects or parts of objects. Objects mutually coexistent, or having mutually coexistent parts, are called bodies. Bodies, then, through their quality of visibility, are the true objects of painting. Objects successively consecutive amongst themselves, or whose parts are consecutive, are called in general actions. Actions, then, are the suitable objects of poetry." Painting, undoubtedly, may represent action, but only by means of bodies which indicate it; and poetry may represent bodies, but only by indicating them by means of actions. When a poet using language, i.e. arbitrary symbols, sets himself to describe bodies, he is no longer a poet but a prose-writer, since a true poet only describes bodies by the effect they produce on the soul.1 Retouching and developing this distinction, Lessing described action or movement in a picture as an addition made by the imagination of the beholder; so true is this, says he, that animals perceive nothing save immobility in a picture. He further studied the various unions of arbitrary with natural symbols, such as that of poetry with music (in which the former is subordinate to the latter), of music with dancing, of poetry with dancing, and of music and poetry with dancing (union of arbitrary consecutive audible symbols with natural visible symbols): of the pantomime of antiquity (union of arbitrary consecutive visible symbols with natural consecutive visible symbols): of the language of the dumb (the only art that employs arbitrary consecutive visible symbols): and, lastly, of imperfect unions, such as that of painting with poetry. If not every use to which language is put is poetic, Lessing holds that not every use of natural coexistent signs is pictorial: painting, like language, has its prose. Prosaic painters are those who represent consecutive objects notwithstanding the character of coexistence in their signs, allegorical painters those who make arbitrary use of natural signs, and those who pretend to represent the invisible or
The limits of
1 Letter to Lodovico Cardi da Cigoli, June 26, 1612.