The Italian Benedetto Croce — who ranks as his country's foremost thinker of [last] century — led a remarkably versatile life. He was a philosopher, statesman, literary critic, and historian, as well as an editor and commentator on human affairs. But his keenest insights — and hardiest achievements — were in aesthetics, his Guide to Aesthetics being the most well known of Croce's works today.
Croce begins his treatise with Tolstoy's question “What is art?” — coming to conclusions very different from those of the Russian novelist. Subsequent parts deal with the topics: prejudices concerning art; the place of arts; and criticism and the history of art.