Aesthetics and the boundaries of rhetoric. charles batteaux's les beaux arts réduit à un même principe (1746) and its danish translation (1773-74)

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1764 Principes de littérature, in five volumes.

The picture is even more variegated if one takes into consideration the two German

translations, one by Johann Adolf Schlegel (father ofthe more famous brothers), and the other

by Karl Wilhelm Ramler; several revised and enlarged editions of both were published. Even

the first edition of Schlegel's translation (1751) featuresa number of embedded commentaries

and supplementary observations, which were revised and expanded in subsequent editions.

Moreover, in the 3rd edition (1770) the translator introducedtreatises on taste, genius and

rhyme. The commentaries of the translator in this edition accounted for more pages than the

original French text. According to the Swedish author, Lars Gustafsson,Schlegel's

commentaries were increasingly negative and critical in the later editions of his translation2.

These German translations, and especially Schlegel's comments, had an impact on theFrench edition of 1764, in which Batteux himself responds to the critique. In a later German

translation Schlegel, in turn, responds to Batteux's replies. Thus, the French and German

editionstogether form a sort of dialogue, exchanging questions and answers.

The Danish translation by Jens Hvas, Indledning til de Skiønne Konster og

Videnskaber, appeared in 1773-74 in four volumes.It contains all of the previous publication

history, including Schlegel's commentaries and supplements, and Batteux's replies. In

addition, the Danish translator provides an introductorytreatise on aesthetics. It should also

be mentioned that Hvas' translation includes some Danish text examples.

A brief description of the text The text is divided into three main parts. Thefirst establishes the imitation of beautiful nature as the sole principle of art, and applies this principle in general terms to poetry, painting, music and dance. The second applies the same...
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