My Many Selves : The Quest for a Plausible Harmony

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2006-01-31
  • Publisher: Utah State Univ Pr
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Wayne C. Booth was one of the most important literary critics and English scholars of recent times. His widely influential books included The Rhetoric of Fiction; Now Don't Try to Reason with Me: Essays and Ironies for a Credulous Age; A Rhetoric of Irony; Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent; Critical Understanding: The Powers and Limits of Pluralism; The Company We Keep: An Ethics of Fiction; The Vocation of a Teacher; For the Love of It: Amateuring and Its Rivals; and The Rhetoric of Rhetoric: The Quest for Effective Communication. Many of them became required reading in college classrooms.

Author Biography

Wayne C. Booth was born February 22, 1921, and died October 10, 2005. Descended from Mormon pioneers, he began as a young man to wrestle with church teachings, a struggle that informed both his decision to root himself in the secular world and his particular interest in the field of rhetoric. He earned a bachelor's degree from Brigham Young University in 1944, a master's in 1947, and a PhD in 1950, both from the University of Chicago.
He was the author of several books, including the highly influential The Rhetoric of Fiction. He argued that as a technique rhetoric can enhance communication between author and reader, not merely manipulate the reader's response. To Professor Booth, literature was not so much words on paper as it was a complex ethical act. The author's task, then, is to draw readers into the web of narrative and hold them there. The critic's task is to tease out the specific rhetorical devices. He later considered rhetoric in a number of forms beyond the narrative, from political discourse to television commercials.
Booth was until 1992 professor of English at the University of Chicago, where he was associated with the Chicago school of literary criticism and became especially well known for his works on rhetoric. A former president of the Modern Language Association and founder and editor of the journal Critical Inquiry, his widely influential books have included The Rhetoric of Fiction, Now Don't Try to Reason with Me: Essays and Ironies for a Credulous Age, A Rhetoric of Irony, Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent, Critical Understanding: The Powers and Limits of Pluralism, The Company We Keep: An Ethics of Fiction, and For the Love of It: Amateuring and Its Rivals (based largely on his devotion to cello playing).

Table of Contents

Preface ix
Part I My Toughest ``Self-Splits'' and What Produced Them
A Devout Mormon Is Challenged by Rival Selves
A Pious Moralist Confronts a Cheater
The Cheerful Poser Comforts a Griever or, A Would-be Tough Guy Meets Grief and Conceals the Tears
My Many Selves Confront the Man Who Believes in Love
Ambition vs. Teaching for the Love of It
The Hypocritical Mormon Missionary Becomes a Skillful Masker, and Discovers ``Hypocrisy-Upward''
The Puritan Preaches at the Luster While the Hypocrite Covers the Show
The Lover Becomes a Trapped Army Private
An Egalitarian Quarrels Scornfully with a Hypocritical Bourgeois
A College Dean Struggles to Escape
Part II The Splits Multiply---in Somewhat Less Torturous Form
The Quarrel between the Cheater and the Moralist Produces Gullible-Booth
A Wandering Generalist Longs to Be a True Scholar
A Would-be Novelist Mourns behind the Would-be Lover and Would-be Scholar
The Committed Father and Husband, as Lover, Shouts ``For Shame!'' at All the Other Selves
The Man of Peace Tries to Tame the Slugger
Interlude: A Potpourri of Chapters I Refuse to Write (Let Alone Include)
Part III Aging, Religion, and---Surprise!---the Quest for a Plausible Harmony
The Old Fart Debates with a Bunch of Young Booths, While Posing as Younger Than 84
Harmony at Last?
Index 310

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