The Clockwork Muse: The Predictability of Artistic Change

Colin Martindale, Author Basic Books $29.95 (411p) ISBN 978-0-465-01186-5
Martindale contends that the quest for novelty is the engine driving artistic and literary creation. He also believes ``art tends to evolve in a social vacuum. . . . With a few exceptions, poetry has always been written for other poets. Painters really paint for each other.'' Applying computerized content analysis to everything from Chaucer to French poetry, Gothic architecture, classical music and Egyptian painting, this University of Maine psychology professor attempts to prove his evolutionary theory to the effect that the ``artistic muse'' operates like clockwork, with trends in aesthetic styles occurring in extremely regular, periodic fashion. His massive number-crunching yields paltry insights. But students of Harold Bloom's literary theories may find this hermetic approach of interest for its discussion of ``arousal potential'' and ``primordial content'' in creative works. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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