By Ruth L. Saw (auth.)
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Additional resources for Aesthetics:: An Introduction
For him, art was not only pleasing, but also beneficial in its effects, both on the individual and on the community. His Poetics consists of an analysis, chiefly of tragedy, to show how the elements ~of tragedy are such as to bring about the good end. In medieval theory the beautiful things of nature were thought of as symbols of God's power and goodness and of his concern for his creatures. Consequently, works of art were attempts to show men the symbolic nature of the real things. Favorite words for describing beautiful things were "clarity" and "radiance," this choice of words showing that the importance of art was held to lie more in what it symbolized than in what it was-or what it appeared to be.
Playwrights differ in their view of the functions of actors and producers. There is the dramatist who, by every means in his power, tries to insure that nothing shall be left to the actor's own initiative. For him, the business of the producer is simply to place the play before the audience with no interposition of personality. George Bernard Shaw, with his minute stage directions, is a dramatist of this kind. Others look on the actors as collaborators and the script as incomplete-the work of art coming into existence with each performance.
We may notice, further, that critics make their names in connection with the work of particular artists, even with particular works, and not with poetry, painting, or the drama in general. If we want to follow the advice of a drama critic, it is What Is a Work of Art? 49 more important to know which particular plays he appreciates than what his views on drama are. We might allow him one or two blind spots, but he must be sound on most of the great plays. In this chapter I have not been concerned with the requirements that people in general assume for giving the title "work of art," "artist," to things, processes, and people.