Excerpt from Benedetto Croce: Philosopher of Art and Literary Critic
In Italian of course there are several aids to the study of Croce, including a full bibliography, completely indexed; see Appendix 2. But there are still a number of unsettled points concerning the developme... nt of Croce's thought and the chronology of his doctrines. The current view of this chronology as it refers to aesthetic theory is cited above, but each date may be pushed backwards. The theory of art as expression is already outlined in a book of 1893. The lyrical intuition, announced in the Heidelberg lecture of 1908, was already formulated in the first draft of the Logic The first formulation of ex pression as an a priori synthesis is dated, even by some Italian scholars, in 1912, but it is to be found in the Logic of 1908. The cosmic intuition is dated 1918, but it is already found in a book which goes back to 1915. My book gives some attention to chronology, but does not attempt to solve all the relative problems. A complete study of Croce's intellectual develop ment still remains to be done.
However, the ultimate aim of this work is not biographical or purely historical but critical. The goal has been to see whether there is a practical theory of literary criticism in Croce. Are the problems of criticism solved more clearly and satisfactorily when viewed from Croce's standpoint? Is the question I have asked myself throughout. Accordingly, I have endeavored to see things as much as possible from his point of View and to present his doctrines in the most favorable light. However, dissent will appear on three main points of doctrine: Croce's handling of the image in his theory of practical criticism (chapters III and VIII), his third or universalistic aesthetics (chapter XI) and his later criticism of contemporary writing (chapter XIV).
In other words, Croce in this book has been criticized only from within, when his conclusions appeared to be inconsistent with his premises. Of course these premises themselves are sub jcet to discussion. But this discussion is profitable only when it arises out of complete knowledge of what Croce had to say.
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