Email this review


Granting the frame of reference- Thomistic Catholicism and an addition to medieval cultural values- the book presents a very interesting discussion. It appears ""at a time when all feel the necessity of escaping from the immense intellectual inherited from the 19th century, and of finding once more the spiritual condisie of honest work."" Maritain formulates certain rules and definitions, as follows: art, first of all, ""is of the intellectual order""; it is a ""habitus"" (not a habit but perhaps a disposition); this habitus is a virtue necessary for the good of the work; ""Art can be compared to Prudence"". Prudence works for the good of the one acting, art works for the good of the work made; and finally while the scientist is an intellectual who demonstrates, the artist is an intellectual who makes..... This unfamiliar way of discussing art is unexpectedly provocative. What Maritain seeks is a higher dedication and a deeper religious insight into art. His preferences are against humanism and romanticism, and for classicism and certain forms of neo-classic modernism. In the second long essay here he makes a special plea for poetry to submit itself to the ""law of grace and the spirit of God"". Everywhere there is talk about the need for greater spiritual discipline in the realm of the fine arts. This book, written by one of the great Catholic intellectuals of our time, will contribute a great deal and it is suggested reading for philosophers, critics and even artists.

Publisher: Scribner