The fact that there is an apparent contradiction in the between the recommendation of happy and unhappy endings points only to the inadequacy of this binary standard for literary criticism, and not to the inadequacy of the . It is insufficient merely to define the difference between high culture and popular culture as the difference between unhappy endings and happy endings. Someone who classifies every movie with a happy Hollywood ending as crowd-pleasing () popular culture, and every movie with an unhappy art-house ending as serious () high culture, is being superficial. Clearly there can be products of high culture with happy endings and products of popular culture with unhappy endings. A more subtle classification, based on a more careful consideration of both the artwork’s form and content, is required. To Aristotle’s credit, the does contain such a careful classification and consideration. The tension reflected in the apparent contradiction between chapters 13 and 14 testifies to the depth of Aristotle’s analysis, a nascent critical theory that distinguishes between popular effect and more refined artistry, and that does so, moreover, with reference to form and content.


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