Reading as a Moral Activity: the Importance of Wayne C. Booth’s The Rhetoric of Fiction
Wayne C. Booth has produced one of the most important achievements of literary criticism of our time. Beginning with The Rhetoric of Fiction (1961), and including Now Don’t Try to Reason with Me (1970), Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent (1974), A Rhetoric of Irony (2974), and Critical Understanding: the Powers and Limits of Pluralism (1979), Booth has conducted a brilliant, impassioned, and ebullient defence of reading, communication, and reason. ‘For me,’ he writes in A Rhetoric of Irony, ‘one good reading of one good passage is worth as much as anything there is, because the person achieving it is living life fully in that time’ (RI, p. xii).1 While A Rhetoric of Irony is an immensely learned and useful discussion and Critical Understanding is an important defence of humanistic criticism, our focus will be on The Rhetoric of Fiction, which stands more than two decades after publication as a critical masterwork.
KeywordsLiterary Criticism Literary Work Moral Vision Modern Literature Fictional World
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