Literary Theory Essay on Dryden's 'an Essay on Dramatic Poesy'

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Mimesis, the Greek word for imitation, has been of major importance in the history of aesthetic and literary theory. It is the earlier way to judge any work of art in relation to reality and to decide whether its representation is accurate or not. Though this mode starts from Plato, it runs through many great theorists of Renaissance up to some modern theorists as well. A literary work is taken to be a representation of reality or of any aspect of it. Plato holds a rather negative view on mimesis; he sees the work of an artist as a simple imitation of imitations, a work that is removed from the essence of nature and one that represents imagination rather than truth, thus introducing the audience to a world of illusions. Aristotle, on the other hand, treats imitation as a basic human faculty, which expresses itself in arts like Literature, music and painting. Unlike Plato, Aristotle believes that it is ungrateful to consider imitation as a mere copy or reflection of reality since it involves a complex meditation of nature that reveals human creativity. It is therefore considered as a human Art. This essay deals essentially with the neoclassical conception of Mimesis, and the attitude of the neoclassicist John Dryden towards the ancient literary theory. Neoclassicism was a widespread and influential movement in literature and visual arts enduring from the early 17th century until around 1750 . Neoclassical writers looked to ancient Greek and Roman writers for inspiration and guidance and reaffirmed literary composition as a rational and rule-bound process, requiring a great deal of craft, labor and study. Central to neoclassical literary theory and practice was the concept of imitation; In the Neoclassical view , Mimesis has been understood as the imitation of nature as objects or phenomena , which means in effect , that literature imitates other modes of discourse , such as philosophy ,ethics , rhetoric , the natural and social sciences , religion , psychology...
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