By Aristotle, Joe Sachs (translator),

Book cover of Poetics

Book description

One of the most powerful, perceptive and influential works of criticism in Western literary history

In his near-contemporary account of classical Greek tragedy, Aristotle examines the dramatic elements of plot, character, language and spectacle that combine to produce pity and fear in the audience, and asks why we derive pleasure…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked Poetics as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Aristotle was the world’s first story expert.

As a story consultant myself, it was incredible to have a man from 2,300 years ago talk to me about story theory! And more than that… everything he says is spot on. 

The real meaning of much of what Aristotle said has been debated for millennia. However, when I used his principles as story dynamics in real stories, they became very clear to me; so, in my own work, I have distilled Aristotle’s principles into a modern three-part interpretation, and I give examples of them working in classical and popular modern stories.


Aristotle is but one of the greatest thinkers to ever have lived within our realms of existence—having defined basically everything natural that we run into on a daily basis thousands of years prior to our lives, he definitely made sure to such in regard to poetry. Among scientific and political discoveries, as well as many others, Aristotle also chose to give his perspective and input regarding literature, specifically poetry and prose, in this text, which proves to be a pivotal key to any reader and/or writer.

From Zachary Austin's list on understanding the world around you.

This book is frequently thought to be a response to Plato’s attack on poetry where Plato charges that poets lack knowledge and that poetry incites the emotions. Aristotle, Plato’s student, argues against his mentor that poets do have knowledge – specifically knowledge of human behavior – and that tragedy refines the emotions rather than mindlessly arousing them. The book is also an insightful treatise on narrative, one that still influences the authors of script-writing manuals today.

From Noël's list on philosophy that surveys the arts.

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