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A Rhetoric of Irony

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A Rhetoric of Irony Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Perhaps no other critical label has been made to cover more ground than "irony," and in our time irony has come to have so many meanings that by itself it means almost nothing. In this work, Wayne C. Booth cuts through the resulting confusions by analyzing how we manage to share quite specific ironies—and why we often fail when we try to do so. How does a reader or listener recognize the kind of statement which requires him to reject its "clear" and "obvious" meaning? And how does any reader know where to stop, once he has embarked on the hazardous and exhilarating path of rejecting "what the words say" and reconstructing "what the author means"?

In the first and longer part of his work, Booth deals with the workings of what he calls "stable irony," irony with a clear rhetorical intent. He then turns to intended instabilities—ironies that resist interpretation and finally lead to the "infinite absolute negativities" that have obsessed criticism since the Romantic period.

Professor Booth is always ironically aware that no one can fathom the unfathomable. But by looking closely at unstable ironists like Samuel Becket, he shows that at least some of our commonplaces about meaninglessness require revision. Finally, he explores—with the help of Plato—the wry paradoxes that threaten any uncompromising assertion that all assertion can be undermined by the spirit of irony.

About the Author

Wayne C. Booth (1921-2005) was the George Pullman Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. His many books include The Rhetoric of Fiction, A Rhetoric of Irony, The Power and Limits of Pluralism, The Vocation of a Teacher, and For the Love of It, all published by the University of Chicago Press.

Table of Contents

Preface

Part I. Stable Irony

1. The Ways of Stable Irony

The Marks of Stable Irony

Stable Irony Compared with "All Literature"

The Four Steps of Reconstruction "

Ironic Readings as Knowledge

Meaning and Significance

Stable Irony and Other Figures of Speech

Metaphor

Allegory and Fable 

Puns

Stable Irony and Satire

2. Reconstructions and Judgments

Rival Metaphors

Advantages of "Reconstruction"

Required Judgments

Some Pleasures and Pitfalls of Irony

3. Is It Ironic?

Clues to Irony

1. Straightforward Warnings in the Author's Own Voice

2. Known Error Proclaimed

3. Conflicts of Facts within the Work

4. Clashes of Style

5. Conflicts of Belief

Toward Genre: Clues in Context

Part II: Learning Where to Stop

4. Essays, Satire, Parody

Contexts and the Grooves of Genre

Complexity Illustrated

"A Modest Proposal" and the Ironic Sublime

Intentions Once Again

Intentions in Parody

5. Ironic Portraits

Dramatic Monologue

Fiction and Drama

"Ready-Made" Values

Custom-Built Worlds

6. The Ironist's Voice

Other Timbres: Metaphor Once Again

Fielding

E. M. Forster as Essayist

7. Is There a Standard of Taste in Irony?

Four Levels of Evaluation

A. Judging Parts According to Function

B. Qualities as Critical Constants

C. Success of Particular Works

D. Comparison of Kinds

The Rhetorical Meeting as Source of Norms

Five Crippling Handicaps

Ignorance

Inability to Pay Attention

Prejudice

Lack of Practice

Emotional Inadequacy

Conclusion: Neither Rules nor Relativism

Part III. Instabilities

8. Reconstructing the Unreconstructable: Local Instabilities

The Classification of Intended Ironies

Stable-Covert-Local

Stable-Overt

Unstable Irony

Unstable-Overt-Local

Unstable-Covert-Local

9. Infinite Instabilities

Unstable-Overt-Infinite

Unstable-Covert-Infinite

Stable-Covert-Infinite

A Final Note on Evaluation

Bibliography

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780226065533
Author:
Booth, Wayne C.
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Author:
Booth, Wayne
Subject:
General
Subject:
Philosophy
Subject:
Theory
Subject:
Semiotics & Theory
Subject:
Irony in literature
Subject:
Literary Criticism : General
Subject:
General Literary Criticism & Collections
Edition Description:
Paperback
Publication Date:
19750831
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
Professional and scholarly
Language:
English
Pages:
310
Dimensions:
9.05x6.04x.82 in. .94 lbs.

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Humanities » Literary Criticism » General
Humanities » Literary Criticism » Literary and Cultural Studies

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