University of Chicago Press, 1975 Cloth: 978-0-226-06552-6 | Paper: 978-0-226-06553-3
ABOUT THIS BOOK | AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY | TOC | REQUEST ACCESSIBLE FILE
ABOUT THIS BOOK
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.
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 Forthe Love of It, all published by the University of Chicago Press.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Ways of Stable Irony
The Marks of Stable Irony
Stable Irony Compared with “All Literature”
The Four Steps of Reconstruction
Ironic Reading as Knowledge
Meaning and Significance
Stable Irony and Other Figures of Speech
Allegory and Fable
Stable Irony and Satire
Reconstructions and Judgments
Advantages of “Reconstruction”
Some Pleasures and Pitfalls of Irony
Is It Ironic?
Clues to Irony
Straightforward Warnings in the Author's Own Voice
Known Error Proclaimed
Conflicts of Facts within the Work
Clashes of Style
Conflicts of Belief
Toward Genre: Clues in Context
Learning Where to Stop
Essays, Satire, Parody
Contexts and the Grooves of Genre
“A Modest Proposal” and the Ironic Sublime
Intentions Once Again
Intentions in Parody
Fiction and Drama
The Ironist's Voice
Other Timbres: Metaphor Once Again
E. M. Forster as Essayist
Is There a Standard of Taste in Irony?
Four Levels of Evaluation
Judging Parts According to Function
Qualities as Critical Constants
Success of Particular Works
Comparison of Kinds
The Rhetorical Meeting as Source of Norms
Five Crippling Handicaps
Inability to Pay Attention
Lack of Practice
Conclusion: Neither Rules nor Relativism
Reconstructing the Unreconstructable: Local Instabilities
The Classification of Intended Ironics
A Final Note on Evaluation
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