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Abhinavagupta, and . Abhinavabhāratī

2006, In M.M. Ghosh (ed.) Nāṭyaśāstra of Bharatamuni: Text, Commentary of Abhinava Bharati by Abhinavaguptacarya and English Translation.Delhi: New Bharatiya Book Corporation.

Summary: Abhinavagupta’s famed commentary on Bharatamuni’s treatise on drama, the Nāṭyaśāstra, in which he details aesthetic expression and experience according to a theory of rasa, or aesthetic relish. Abhinavagupta’s theory is the most influential account of how the rasas or aesthetic emotions transcend the bounds of the spectator and artwork in a three-part process including depersonalization, universalization, and identification.

Comment: This text is appropriate for an in-depth study of Indian aesthetics. It requires an at least an introductory background in Indian philosophy to be accessible.

Peng Feng, and . Li Yu’s Theory of Drama: A Moderate Moralism

2016, Philosophy East and West 66(1): 73-91.

Abstract: This essay presents an interpretation of Li Yu’s theory of drama that takes it to be a moderate moralism that is different from Confucian radical moralism, Daoist radical autonomism, and the moderate autonomism of fiction. In addition to practical considerations, Li Yu’s moderate moralism of drama is based on his awareness of the ontological difference between drama and music, poetry, and fiction. Drama was seen by Li Yu as a synthetic art that includes music, poetry, and fiction. If radical autonomism is appropriate for the evaluation of music, radical moralism for poetry and prose, and moderate autonomism for fiction, then moderate moralism would be most appropriate in the evaluation of drama.

Comment: Peng gives an account of the development of Chinese drama according to a contrast between Confucian moralism, in which morality controls aesthetics, and Daoist autonomism, in which aesthetics are autonomous from morality. He argues for an understanding of Li Yu’s theory of drama as a moderate moralism that evaluates drama according to a possible, yet contingent and unnecessary relation between moral and aesthetic virtue. This text is appropriate for a course on aesthetics and/or Chinese philosophy. It is particularly useful in discussions of the relationship between ethics and aesthetics.

Zeami Motokiyo, and . Zeami: Performance Notes

2008, New York: Columbia University Press

Publisher’s Note: Zeami (1363-1443), Japan’s most celebrated actor and playwright, composed more than thirty of the finest plays of no drama. He also wrote a variety of texts on theater and performance that have, until now, been only partially available in English. Zeami: Performance Notes presents the full range of Zeami’s critical thought on this subject, which focused on the aesthetic values of no and its antecedents, the techniques of playwriting, the place of allusion, the training of actors, the importance of patronage, and the relationship between performance and broader intellectual and critical concerns. Spanning over four decades, the texts reflect the essence of Zeami’s instruction under his famous father, the actor Kannami, and the value of his long and challenging career in medieval Japanese theater.
Tom Hare, who has conducted extensive studies of no academically and on stage, begins with a comprehensive introduction that discusses Zeami’s critical importance in Japanese culture. He then incorporates essays on the performance of no in medieval Japan and the remarkable story of the transmission and reproduction of Zeami’s manuscripts over the past six centuries. His eloquent translation is fully annotated and includes Zeami’s diverse and exquisite anthology of dramatic songs, Five Sorts of Singing, presented both in English and in the original Japanese.

Comment: A compilation of writings on performance by the Japanese playwright, actor, and aesthetician, Zeami Motoyiko. His work addresses the principles of nō theater, including dramatic imitation, music, and movement, as well as ideas from Japanese philosophical aesthetics such as yūgen (“dark” or “mysterious”). Zeami also maintains a focus throughout his writings on jo-ha-kyū, a style of movement found in many Japanese arts, including theater, tea ceremony, and martial arts. This text is best used in a course on aesthetics, especially theater and cross-cultural aesthetics.