ART & PHILOSOPHY
SEVEN AESTHETICIANS
CROCE : COLLINGWOOD : DUCASSE : DEWEY : SANTAYANA : LANGER : REID


By  SUSHIL KUMAR SAXENA


The book has much to recommend itself. It is a rich and all along lucid projection of the basic views of the seven renowned aestheticians - from Croce to L.A. Reid; and the presentation is throughout a firm balance  of exposition and criticism. Focusing on the text of original writing is steady and recurrent. This makes the work impressively analytic and authentic. The author's interpretations are searching; and his disagreements with their thinkers, well reasoned - and so of ample power. Additional interest is provided by apt and ample references to actual art, by way of illustration; pre-eminent, in this context, are poetry, Hindustani music and rhythm, and Kathak dance. But in all such references, relevance to the concepts and problems of aesthetic theory has duly been kept in mind.

The author's own analysis of William Blake's poem, The Echoing Green, as opposed to the critical reactions it has elicited from Tilliyard and Susane Langer, and his attempt to relate Dewey's concept of an experience to both Hindustani rhythm and a ghazal of the famous Urdu poet, Jigar, are two other features of the book which  may be expected to both enlighten and fascinate the discerning reader.

Indeed, though, it is thoughtful and scholarly, the book is not likely to seem lacking in appeal to anyone.

The work is ''admirably comprehensive [and] uniformly thoughtful... There is nothing in the current literature that does the same thing in the same way (even excepting the discussions of Indian art)'' Jerome Stolinitz Sometime President American Society for Aesthetics


The Author

Sushil Kumar Saxena, formerly Professor of Philosophy at the University of Delhi, made his mark with his very first book: Studies in the Metaphysics of Bradley. It won him the distinction of being the second Indian (after Dr. S. Radhakrishnan) to appear as an author in (George Allen & Unwin's) Muirhead Library Series of philosophical works. But piqued by the feeling that even after the attainment of political Independence India's rich cultural heritage had not been subjected to aesthetic analysis, he turned to philosophical aesthetics; and has kept to it since 1964 when he  initiated regular teaching of the subject to postgraduate classes of his University.

Today, Dr. Saxena's books, numerous essays on Hindustani music, rhythm and kathak dance are generally regarded as pioneering extension of contemporary Western aesthetics. Quite a few of his articles have appeared in the International journals, sometimes eliciting debate.

'The    work  is   both     scholarly    and   very  readable (not a combination often found together !). The scholarly aspect shows up in the very detailed textual references and the most effective combination of exposition and critique that characterizes each chapter. The readability comes both from very clear style and the wide ranging and very lively coverage of examples both from Indian and European art and from a verity of different forms - ranging from the poetry of Blake and Wordsworth to Kathak dance and Sanskrit poetry. The author seems to be equally at home with both European and Indian traditions and this gives the book a special value."Nick McAdoo, Goldsmith's College, University of London

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