PDF KINDLE The Rhetoric of Fiction · Wayne C. Booth

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Convince the reader to most effectively lead the reader to understand the story that he is trying to convey no writer writes without being aware of he is trying to convey no writer writes without being aware of potential audience and therefore writes to make his fiction understandable and thus uses rhetoricThere is clearly a cyclical nature to taste and thus to criteria of excellence each age or generation reacting to and rejecting the views of that immediately before it Booth s insights chronicle such a process although that is not his primary intent rather he seems to be focused ON CORRECTING OR MODIFYING THE CONVICTIONS correcting or modifying the convictions recently in vogue Knowing that he risks setting up his own arbitrary criterion Booth nonetheless selects interest as the basis upon which he chooses to build his argument fully recognizing that this is fluid and to some extent imprecise to a real extent in the eye of the beholderThe types of literary interest fall into three inds 1 Intellectual or cognitive 2 ualitative including cause and effect conventional expectations abstract forms and promised ualities 3 Practical or Human which includes our emotional response our concern with the characters our moral judgments These interests would seem to boil down to truth beauty and goodness and most works contain all three albeit in differing proportionsThe author and the reader of a work of fiction are in a sense created selves different from either in real life and it is these created selves that must be in essential agreement if a work of art is to succeed with the reader Booth concludes Part I Artistic Purity and the Rhetoric of Fiction with a chapter on types of narrative a chapter that presents narrative as so variable and nuanced as to be of little assistance to the common reader in my opinion Perhaps the most that can usefully be asserted is that simple point of view such as first or third person is of relatively little importance how those points of view are utilized being of salience In Part II Booth moves to a discussion of The Author s Voice in Fiction In this long section he skillfully explores and illustrates his points by analyzing the role of the narrator and the rhetoric used in Fielding s Tom Jones Sterne s Tristram Shandy and Austen s Emma thereby making clear his arguments in Part IFinally in Part III Booth addresses Impersonal Narration discussing the challenges that arise for an author when his narrator distances himself even to the point of unreliability the most interesting examples involve the works of Henry JamesIn summary by focusing on the rhetoric of fiction Booth has provided the thoughtful reader with an additional perspective an additional tool with which to read and evaluate what he is reading And the broader the reader s repertoire the greater his potential enjoyment and appreciation of the fictional work in uestion I think my mark is not fair to the book it gives a lot of work to the brain and is really enlightening But I certainly had problems with following author s logic and his examples often overbearingly detailed Exam reading Most of you probably don t care to read this I won t be offended This is pretty much THE bible for rhetorical literary criticism which is I discovered through the course of my PhD coursework how I actually think of literature but didn t have the language for until recently My dissertation is going to be about applying this framework in secondary English For those of you who care Which isn t too many of you However this particular text for my purposes was only super useful during Part One The second and third sections were less what I needed so I admit I skimmed them What is nice about this second edition is that the author spends uite a bit of time going back over his first edition and amending things he believed to be true then but sees differently now responding to feedbackcriticism he had gotten in the 20 years since the first publication etc Anyway this book is GIGANTIC and I read it in one sitting This is my job for the moment I realize I am currently at the office aka the Caribou Coffee near my house so I m not looking for any sort of pat on the back but seriously 400 pages of academic writing in one day My brain was fried I read this some years ago and it was completely impressive all about tellin and showin and modernism wishing to drive out the author s voice and very not reliable narrators and four inds of realism and Henry James and how tears and laughter are aesthetically frauds god damn them to hell Years later when I thought of this book a little something popped into my head I saw a scarecrow in a field peering closer I saw he had my face and he was grinning glassily and singing I could while away the hoursRe reading Richard PowersOr maybe Gertrude StainAnd my head I d be scratchin While my thoughts were busy hatchin If I only had a brainI d unravel any riddleof modernistic piddlewhile commutin on a trainAnd my thoughts would be dancin I could be another FranzenIf I only had a brainI could entertain the missusWith tales of brave UlyssesOr even James M CainI would formulate the piecesOf my throbbing mighty thesisIf I only had a brain. S forth his own recent thinking about the rhetoric of fiction The other new feature is a Supplementary Bibliography prepared by James Phelan in consultation with the author which lists the important critical works of the past twenty years two decades that Booth describes as the richest in the history of the subject. .

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The possibility of such things but I have now been made many enlightening examples It makes me interested in pursuing works I previously had no desire made witness to many examples makes me interested in pursuing works I previously had no desire read eg Tristram Shandy Tom Jones Madame Bovary possibly Ulysses and the works of Henry James and Graham Greene among a few others because I m better positioned to appreciate the telling of these tales not just the tales themselves I can see Rhetoric being a worthwhile read for anyone who would like to acuire a similar appreciationSomeone wiser than me summarized this book s thesis as all narrative is rhetoric An author has tangible presence in hisher fiction novel however well disguised or aloof heshe strives to be and many have tried very hard depending on changing trends in critcism of how obvious how much obvious presence is judged acceptable There is a second self thus produced by the author here called the implied author in the course of writing a fiction piece that suggests a personality who is pulling the strings behind the scenes This implied author is tantamount to being a character in the story and should not be euated with the actual author The actual author needs to be aware of this implied presence heshe is creating and its effect on how the reader perceives and reads the story A good author writing a good novel will be aware of and use this presence to hisher advantage by being fully aware of what heshe is making a case for and employ good rhetoric accordinglyI m led to wonder how much of what I would have called an author s style is correctly attributed as characteristics of this implied author concept I think my next step should be to find a book that takes what Mr Booth produced here and explores that uestion I d like to obtain a firmer understanding of what is meant by style in the context of this book s thesis I ve found some excellent essays by horrorsf author Dan Simmons on his web site but exploration is reuired One of Narratology s most daunting curses is that everyone me too believes they now what it is about except that they don t First and third person narration sure basic shit right Except that NOAdmitting at the same time the limitations of the field and not pretending it is an exact science while pretending it be treated with the methodological approach of an actual science The Rhetoric of Fiction is a veritable gold mine explaining several ey concepts in narratology A must read for any literature student Booth s sheer enthusiasm for his topic make this a great read for any dedicated reader whatsoeverAlthough occasionally a bit verbose it s also one of those rare theoretical texts that is ACTUALLY FUCKING UNDERSTANDABLE like uite easily Gee Mr Booth thanks Not all literary theorists choose to focus on rhetoric of course but Wayne Booth is particularly interested in exploring the means by which authors persuade their readers Booth begins his book by commenting on some of the rules that have been promulgated about fiction writing first discussing the admonition that the author must show rather than tell Booth cites many examples of fine fiction that seems to violate this rule ultimately concluding that the distinction itself is simplistic and in many cases uite arbitrary In fact since by definition an author must make judgments and craft his narrative accordingly a framework or base of telling is unavoidable Commenting on the relatively modern conclusion never entirely agreed upon by various authorities that novels must be realistic Booth discusses the tendency of modern criticism to try to deduce universal ualities from undifferentiated inds of fiction thus creating generic criteria from which subseuent judgments are made itself being an arbitrary position Such conclusions must always be either descriptive or normative if the former than anything that varies from them is simply different rather than inferior and if the latter than they would seem often capriciously to exclude works that have long been acclaimed and affirmed as excellent fiction a position that is hard to defend on any objective grounds In part such a modern tendency results from a decreasing interest in recognizing different inds or genres in fiction each having different characteristics and intents Perhaps the greatest insight that the reader can take away from this discussion is to attempt to discern what position a given author is taking in his own work to try to identify the author s own criteria and goals and then to ascertain how well those goals have been met in the work of fiction in uestion Booth s argument is similar when addressing the demand that All Authors Should Be Objective ie neutral and impartial and the demand that True Art Ignore the Audience ie that true artists write only for themselves None of these rules can be taken at face value all being the product of particular perspectives limited to particular eras and theoretical schools of criticism none above all being able truly to be formulated as generalizations Overall Booth tries to show that almost inherently the author must resort to using rhetoric that is to say that he must write to. Te texts and its concepts and terms such as the implied author the postulated reader and the unreliable narrator have become part of the standard critical lexiconFor this new edition Wayne C Booth has written an extensive Afterword in which he clarifies misunderstandings corrects what he now views as errors and set. ,
A systematic and even handed study for which I rate Him Up There With Bakhtin Convergence Of Critical Analysis And up there with Bakhtin Convergence of critical analysis and in the modern novel particularly in and after Henry James If one were to be so impudent as to simplify this book into any takeaway message it is that one must take the middle way without generalizations that we must remember the tautological fact If you do such and such badly it will be bad Not that any method or techniue is true or false but that it must be true in the context of its workIn apologizing for the pedantry of interpretation in his last section he uotes from Saul Bellow s Deep Readers of the World Beware 1959 Perhaps the deepest readers are those who are least sure of themselves An even disturbing suspicion is that they prefer meaning to feelingHis approach to Portrait of the Artist is marvelous and his offhand summary *Of Joyce S Epiphany Is The Best I Ve Read *Joyce s epiphany is the best I ve read in his earliest years he recorded his brief epiphanies those bits of dialogue or description that were supposed to reveal the inner reality of things there was always an implied identification of the recorder s norms and the reader s both were spectators at the revealing moment both shared iin the vision of one moment of truth Though some of the epiphanies are funny some sad and some mixed the basic effect is always the same an overwhelming sense when they succeed of what Joyce liked to call the incarnation Artistic Meaning has come to live in the world s body The Poet has done his work 331The bibliography alone is an enormous resource Just when you think Booth isn t going to present any anecdotes about his friend in his youth beating off to the orgy scenes in Brave New World BAM there it is page 389 Insofar as the title of Booth s book is The Rhetoric of Fiction and that rhetoric is both the carriage of argument over words and the lack thereof it is completely appropriate that Booth s book ends with him advancing the argument that his book has been about morality in fiction and acknowledging that most modern his word fiction is modern precisely in the lack of such moralityBooth s survey of fictional techniue is both deep and broad and is a fantastic spur to read some and this is perhaps a bizarre thing to say given their great fame but still nonetheless true I feel often overlooked great writers Fielding Sterne James and Richardson his most freuent exemplars Indeed in some places this book is simply a critiue of Percy Lubbock s second hand theories borrowed from James himself accomplished rather cleverly by looking at James s work I began to have the idea reading Booth s long section on James s reflectors that spending a year or two running down all of the revisions that the Master made in his New York edition would be totally worthwhile Likewise I am excited to read Tom Jones I wouldn t have read it all without reading this book I don t thinkThe author makes his readers If he makes them badly that is if he simply waits in all purity for the occasional reader whose perceptions and norms happen to match his own then his conception must be lofty indeed if we are to forgive him for his bad craftsmanship But if he makes them well that is makes them see what they have never seen before moves them into a new order of perception and experience altogether he finds his reward in the peers he has created is how Booth closes his book And if one substitutes the concept of having something anything of value to articulate behind what one says some concept that is of value to the author and is worth the trouble of articulation for Booth s somewhat hazier concept of morality then the modern writer fits suarely into Booth s rhetoric If it is no longer the enumeration of a moral code that is at the center of the author s project then modern fiction is no longer so opaue or obtuse as Booth paints it uite on its own this book is valuable as a teaching tool in making the reader and the writer realize that whatever may be the aim of a particular piece of fiction its rhetoric remains essentially the same across the spectrum of possible works and is always part of the piece of fiction itself contained within the particular work and or less clear at the expense of making its argument If you re into stuff like this you can read the full reviewNarrative Voices The Rhetoric of Fiction by Wayne C BoothOriginal Review 1981 03 28When Booth came up with the idea of the unreliable narrator he wasn t speaking to writers he was reminding critics and teachers and readers in general of something every decent writer of fiction has always nown that a narrator is a voice and a voice is a character and is I picked up and read Rhetoric from the perspective of an author wannabe so my copy is now scored with underlines and margin notes that will enable me to A Boy in Winter keep my interpretations and itsey points straight when I browse through it later for reference It goes beyond grammersyntax advice beyond plotcharactertheme construction to explore what actually makes a good novel a good novel I m not taking away any hard and fast lessons Mr Booth largely dispenses with. The first edition of The Rhetoric of Fiction transformed the criticism of fiction and soon became a classic in the field One of the most widely used texts in fiction courses it is a standard reference point in advanced discussions of how fictional form works how authors make novels accessible and how readers recrea. .

The Rhetoric of Fiction