|dc.description.abstract||Part 1 Commentary
An Introduction discusses the nature and subject-matter of
Monboddo's printed works, and modern reaction to them, as well as
identifying the principal task of the present thesis: an examination
of Monboddo's views on poetry, and the presentation of an edited text
of some of the principal MSS in which these views are expressed.
Chapter 1 traces the genesis of an unpublished Volume VII of
Monboddo's Of the Origin and Progress of Language, and infers its
intended form from the MSS incorporated in Part 2.
Chapter 2 examines and evaluates Monboddo's writings on
aesthetics as contained in both the published works (Origin and
Progress and Antient Metaphysics) and unpublished MSS. His opposition
to the prevalent empiricist school, and to the inner sense theorists,
is demonstrated. Unresolved tensions in Monboddo's own theory of
poetic imitation are attributed to his espousal of incompatible
Aristotelian and Platonic doctrines; Monboddo's rationalist theory
of beauty, asserting it to consist in system, is analyzed, and his
debt to Shaftesbury commented on. Monboddo's concessions to the
cult of sensibility are noted, and the rationale by which he applies
his aesthetics to literary criticism studied. Monboddo's relations
with other critics, particularly Dr. Johnson, are documented.
Chapter 3 assesses the state of prosodic theory at the time
Monboddo wrote, then investigates his own view that modern scansion
is a degenerate form of the classical; and places his views in
context against those of his acquaintances.
Chapter 4 assembles a collection of Monboddo's criticism
of individual poets, drawn from his printed and MS writings.
Homer is identified as the standard against which all modern poetry
is to be measured. The entire medieval era Monboddo dismisses out
of hand. Shakespeare's "barbarity" is censured, but his characters
praised. Monboddo's informed and valuable criticism of both the
style and content of Milton's poetry is examined in depth, and the
prosodic licence of Monboddo's interpretation of Dryden's Alexander's
Feast criticized. Shaftesbury Monboddo praises; Pope (although
decadently Gallic in style) is esteemed as a satiric force, as is
Swift; Fielding's use of epic devices, however, is censured.
Thomson's Castle of Indolence and Armstrong's Art of Preserving
Health are admired, and the works of "Ossian" considered as food
for linguistic thought. Among dramatic works, Monboddo particularly
approves of Home's Douglas.
Part 2: Text and Notes
Part 2 provides an edited text of six MSS of particular
importance in shedding light on Monboddo's theory of poetry, his
poetic criticism and the nature of Origin and Progress VII.
An Apparatus Criticus records all textual alterations; Notes elucidate
literary allusions, explicate difficult passages and provide
miscellaneous points of information.||en