On Great Writing (On the Sublime)

On Great Writing (On the Sublime)

by Longinus

Celebrated for its own clarity and sublime style, this classic work of literary theory draws on the writings of Demosthenes, Plato, Sappho, Thucydides, Euripides, and Aeschylus, among others, to examine and delineate the essentials of a noble style. The complete translation, from the Greek of A. O. Prickard's Oxford text, features an introduction by Grube, establishing the historical and critical context of the work, and a biographical index.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Philosophy
  • Rating: 3.86
  • Pages: 88
  • Publish Date: February 1st 1991 by Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.
  • Isbn10: 0872200809
  • Isbn13: 9780872200807

What People Think about "On Great Writing (On the Sublime)"

As a Greco-Roman text on literary aesthetics, On Great Writing (On the Sublime) is widely regarded by specialists as second only to Aristotle's Poetics, though it is incomplete (it is estimated that one-third of the text is missing) and its author and date of composition are unknown.(*) Remarkably enough, it is a very readable piece of literary criticism written in epistolary style - and thus seemingly informal - that is appealing to the modern reader with its open enthusiasm and concrete illustrations drawn from all of ancient Greek literature - oratory, philosophy, poetry and history (and, at one point, from the Book of Genesis(**)). If for no other reason, we are deeply indebted to this text because it is the only extant source for the following ode by Sappho, selected by our author as a sublime illustration of a "skillful choice of the most important and intense details and in relating them to one another". So if we take the 1st century CE as the date of composition, it is likely that our author was a Jew.

Unfortunately there's so much more of this stuff laying around than there is of those dudes who were on the road all the time, peddling their tropes and figures back when rhetoric got RESPECK. No rhetorician writes without some categories and lists, and here Longinus provides a program that tweaks the classical standard canon by beginning with sources rather than just elements, effects or appeals: in writing and speech, sublimity has five sources, the first two of which are not teachable but spring from superior character. Five sources of sublimity: 1)Grandeur of thought 2)Vigorous and spirited treatment of passions 3)A certain artifice in the employment of figuresa)figures of thought b)figures of speech4)Dignified expression a)diction b)metaphors5)Majesty and elevation of structure He accidentally lets #2 have to do with tropes and figures which gives it a hazy overlap with #3, and--oops--metaphors (from #4) are figures, too. Longinus's imagination has been seriously electro-fenced-in by Plato and Aristotle and this is reason enough to dismiss him as just another teensy step toward the dark ages as--as rhet nerds know--nothing hampered the flowering of rhetorical sublimity more than Plato's strawman-scattered rigged reality-TV-of-the-time "dialogs" and Aristotle's Assburgers OCD category madness, but that's just between and/or among us, right?

Gardons-nous d'écrire trop bien. É um livro honesto sobre estilo: descreve o sublime e os seus usos menos sublimes, não necessariamente condenando estes.

Heavily laden with tautology and other faux definitions that simply remove the mystery one step, the text is happy to state that the Sublime acting with an imperious and irresistible force, sways every reader (2). Most of the argument is mere exemplification, both positive and negative, via reference to other writers, such as:Hence we laugh at those fine words of Gorgias of Leontini, such as Xerxes the Persian Zeus and vultures, those living tombs, and at certain conceits of Callisthenes which are high-flown rather than sublime, and at some in Cleitarchus more ludicrous stilla writer whose frothy style tempts us to travesty Sophocles and say, He blows a little pipe, and blows it ill. Am fairly certain however that, though the loss of these writers aforesaid in all but their names is an event tragic without boundary, a loss beyond measure, a magnitude I am unable to estimate, the rational mind nevertheless identifies, primarily, as here, through the mechanism of absence, in which, according to our faithful interlocutor, a thought in its naked simplicity, even though unuttered, is sometimes admirable by the sheer force of its sublimity; for instance, the silence of Ajax in the eleventh Odyssey is great, and grander than anything he could have said (15). The silence of the lost writers is their most grand characteristic; they lack now any claim to beauty, though their enforced silence might be considered sublime. For example, no man of sense can regard wealth, honour, glory, and power, or any of those things which are surrounded by a great external parade of pomp and circumstance, as the highest blessings, seeing that merely to despise such things is a blessing of no common order: certainly those who possess them are admired much less than those who, having the opportunity to acquire them, through greatness of soul neglect it. (11) That said, identification of the longinian Sublime relies on pentapartite criteria: grandeur of thought, vigorous passion, artifice, dignity, majesty (13). Recommended for those who have almost in anger torn one word into two persons, writers whose hyperbole appears in disguise, and persons who have achieved the Sublime and are accordingly more than mortal.

This little book, written by an unknown author sometime in the first century AD*, is the most significant piece of literary criticism surviving from ancient Rome. Even if youre not familiar with the authors and texts examined in this book, On the Sublime can be read and appreciated on a theoretical level. Fans of Aristotles book, the history of literary criticism, or classical literature in general will find much to enjoy here.

On the Sublime is a nice little work, parts of which are sadly lost, where Longinus discourses upon this topic, quoting from a variety of authors illustrate his theories of what makes a book good, and what is conducive of the Sublime. In the Odyssey, on the other hand, he Homer demonstrates that when a great mind begins to decline, a love of story-telling characterizes its old age . he made the whole body of the Iliad, which was written at the height of his powers, dramatic and exciting, whearas most of the Odyssey consists of narrative, which is a characteristic of old age. In saying this, I have not forgotten the storms in the Odyssey, the story of the Cyclops, and a few other episodes; I am speaking of old agebut it is the old age of Homer. __________ I wonder whether what destroys great minds is not the peace of the world, but the unlimited war which lays hold on our desires, and all the passions which beset and ravage our modern life. Greatness of mind wanes, fades, and loses its attraction when men spend their admiration on their mortal parts and neglect to develop the immortal.

Longinus holds that great oratory, which is of sublime character, courses through the interstitial space between premeditation and the spur of the moment.

También se menciona que al terminar de leer sus capítulos no tendrás una idea clara de lo que realmente es Sublime, pero que te habrá encantado su documentación. Todavía no terminaba el ensayo y ya me urgía leer a Longino.