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

By Wayne C. Booth

Maybe 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 ability nearly not anything. during this paintings, Wayne C. sales space cuts throughout the ensuing confusions via interpreting how we be ready to proportion fairly particular ironies—and why we frequently fail once we try and 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 be aware of the place to prevent, as soon as he has launched into the harmful and exhilarating direction 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 purpose. He then turns to meant instabilities—ironies that withstand interpretation and at last result in the "infinite absolute negativities" that experience obsessed feedback because the Romantic period.Professor sales space is usually sarcastically conscious that not anyone can fathom the unfathomable. yet by way of taking a look heavily at risky ironists like Samuel Becket, he exhibits that not less than a few of our commonplaces approximately meaninglessness require revision. ultimately, he explores—with assistance from Plato—the wry paradoxes that threaten any uncompromising statement that each one statement should be undermined by way of the spirit of irony.

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The process of decision may be easy, as in most of Pope's undertnlnlOgs, or hard, but it will always be complex when viewed closely, as 16. Alexander Pope, The Rape oj th e Lock , lines 15-16. 61 Is It Ironic? Stable Irony we see if we try to prove that in the poet's view the lovers if! fact very well. It is clear that if the final voice triumphs, then we have here s' the reverse of "advance warning" (clue no. 1 above). A very great portion of ironic essays could be said to have this essential structure (a) a plausible but false voice is presented; (b) contradictions of voice are introduced; (c) a correct voice is finally heard, repudlati all or most or some of what the ostensible speaker has said.

Dramatic irony, as this kind of effect has been called since about beginning of the nineteenth century, 10 is of course by no means to plays, and it does not depend on the convention of souies. It occurs whenever an author deliberately asks us to compare two or more characters say of each other, or what a character says with what he says or does later. Any plain discrepancy will do, it is true that conventions like the soliloquy or the epistolary ique in novels are especially useful because especially sure.

But there are vast numbers of passages in this as in other books by Kierkegaard about which even experts are in disagreement, though they are never in disagreement about whether Kierkegaard intended vast numbers of stable (and unstable) ironies. Similarly, there are many lively controversies about whether this or that modern novel is ironic. "2 No doubt there are many controversies that can never be resolved; we must be willing to live with whatever confusion cannot be aVoided. But a too ready tolerance of confusion can deprive us of a great deal of fun in literature, and it can of course be disastrous in daily life.

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