Dramatic Art

Just as a magnifying glass modifies all the points of interest in an object to which it is applied, so it seems permissible at times for imaginative art to do—in case, like the glass, it does not change the relative proportions of the parts to one another and to the whole. A poet, like a painter, has a right to increase the interest and beauty of the life that furnishes his model by means of the medium—the modern medium too—through which he is supposed to contemplate it. Otherwise, the subject with which he deals could not be treated from a present and poetic view-point, and his works would not be worth the ink expended on them. All the consideration for truth which it seems reasonable to expect of the historic dramatist is that, in a medium, the component parts of which are necessarily made up of the language and methods of thought natural to his own time, he should represent, in their relative proportions, the particular motives and feelings as well as the general atmosphere of thought natural to the conditions existing at the time of the events forming the basis of his plot.—Introduction to “The Aztec God.”


Take the dramatic art—a better term, by the way, than histrionic, though perhaps, because liable to be confounded with dramatic literature, not so distinctive a term as dramatics—take this art. In important particulars, it certainly stands at the centre of the higher aesthetic system, containing in itself, as it does, the germs of all its artistic possibilities. It may use not alone the sustained intonations of the voice that are developed into melody and music, but also the unsustained articulations that are developed into language and poetry; and besides these, too, it may use the posturing in connection with surrounding scenes and persons and stage settings that are developed into painting, sculpture, and architecture. Why then is it not usually included in the same class with music, poetry, painting, sculpture, and architecture? Is not this the reason?—Because its effects result mainly from the use of means of expression that are connected with the artist’s own body, whereas the other arts necessitate the use and consequent production of a medium of expression that is external to him. There is little doubt that externality in this sense is import-ant in order to give completeness to the conception of a product of art as a thing that is made.—Art in Theory, IX.