A Rhetoric of Irony (Phoenix Books) by Wayne C. Booth

By Wayne C. Booth

Probably no different serious label has been made to hide extra flooring than "irony," and in our time irony has come to have such a lot of meanings that on its own it capacity virtually not anything. during this paintings, Wayne C. sales space cuts during the ensuing confusions by way of reading how we be capable of proportion rather particular ironies—and why we frequently fail once we attempt to achieve this. How does a reader or listener realize the type of assertion which calls for him to reject its "clear" and "obvious" which means? and the way does any reader comprehend the place to prevent, as soon as he has launched into the unsafe and exhilarating course of rejecting "what the phrases say" and reconstructing "what the writer means"?In the 1st and longer a part of his paintings, sales space offers with the workings of what he calls "stable irony," irony with a transparent rhetorical cause. He then turns to meant instabilities—ironies that face up to interpretation and at last bring about the "infinite absolute negativities" that experience obsessed feedback because the Romantic period.Professor sales space is often mockingly conscious that nobody can fathom the unfathomable. yet via taking a look heavily at risky ironists like Samuel Becket, he indicates that at the least a few of our commonplaces approximately meaninglessness require revision. ultimately, he explores—with the aid of Plato—the wry paradoxes that threaten any uncompromising statement that each one statement will be undermined via the spirit of irony.

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Known Error Proclaimed I f a speake r betrays ignorance or foolishness that is "simply incredible," the odds 'a re comparatively high that the author, in contrast, knows what he is doing. Many comic writers rely on an initial absurdity to set the tone for an entire tale, as Mark Twain does at the beginning of "Baker's Bluejay Yarn" : "Animals talk to each other, of course. There can be no question about that; but I suppose there are very few people Who can understand them. I never knew but one man who could.

Eliot's "The Hollow Men" a\yare that much of what I shall say on this score may seem obvious -these all give us quite directly information that we can immediat~ly some readers . But this does not trouble me : in a sense the greater use in suspecting "secret" intentions behind the narrator's words. "My obviousness the stronger the demonstration that we haJe overstres narrator-hero is a con-man, and I invite you to stand up here with me "failures of communication" and disagreements and undervalued (somewhere, somewhere up here, a new place that you'll have to agreements.

B lake: Complete Writings, ed. p. ) 39 Stable Irony and (4) whether the ironist was justified in forcing us to go to all of this trouble-is he, finally, writing or speaking well? The last three of these are shared with the reader of non-metaphorical passages, but irony transforms even these. The first is shared in some degree with readers of other figurative writing, but again irony dramatizes and heightens the choices until they are scarcely recognizable. 4 1. As we have seen (pp. 21-27), all non-literal language, every "abnormal" way of saying anything, invites us to reject a lower literal interpretation and climb to a better one.

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