What is the soul of poetry? Perhaps the most influential answer comes from Aristotle’s Poetics, in which the writer regarded poetry as an instance of mimesis, a kind of representation or simulation. However, despite the significance he gave the term, Aristotle's use of the word mimesis was far from unequivocal, and over the centuries that have followed this inconsistency has stimulated a wealth of interpretations and debate. Tracking Poetics from its birth in rhetorical studies to its reception across the centuries until romanticism, Mats Malm here examines the many different ways scholars—from Averroës to Schlegel—have understood mimesis, looking at how these various interpretations have led to very different definitions of the soul of poetry.
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