The Company We Keep: An Ethics of Fiction

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University of California Press, Jan 1, 1988 - Business & Economics - 557 pages
4 Reviews
In The Company We Keep, Wayne C. Booth argues for the relocation of ethics to the center of our engagement with literature.

But the questions he asks are not confined to morality. Returning ethics to its root sense, Booth proposes that the ethical critic will be interested in any effect on the ethos, the total character or quality of tellers and listeners. Ethical criticism will risk talking about the quality of this particular encounter with this particular work. Yet it will give up the old hope for definitive judgments of "good" work and "bad." Rather it will be a conversation about many kinds of personal and social goods that fictions can serve or destroy. While not ignoring the consequences for conduct of engaging with powerful stories, it will attend to that more immediate topic, What happens to us as we read? Who am I, during the hours of reading or listening? What is the quality of the life I lead in the company of these would-be friends?

Through a wide variety of periods and genres and scores of particular works, Booth pursues various metaphors for such engagements: "friendship with books," "the exchange of gifts," "the colonizing of worlds," "the constitution of commonwealths." He concludes with extended explorations of the ethical powers and potential dangers of works by Rabelais, D. H. Lawrence, Jane Austen, and Mark Twain.
  

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Review: The Company We Keep: An Ethics of Fiction

User Review  - Richard - Goodreads

This book has changed my life and was a significant emotional event in my life. I recommend that you read it. The bibliography itself is worth the price. It tells you how to evaluate the worth of a ... Read full review

Review: The Company We Keep: An Ethics of Fiction

User Review  - Jack Wolfe - Goodreads

Why didn't I read this in college? Maybe because it makes perfect sense. Read full review

Contents

Why Ethical Criticism Fell on Hard Times
25
The Peculiar Logic of Evaluative Criticism
49
4
80
Who Is Responsible in Ethical Criticism and for What?
125
THE MAKING OF FRIENDS
157
7
200
The Faking and Making
227
Desire against Desire
265
Myths Their Creators and Critics
325
PART III
374
13
420
The Ethics of Reading
483
Bibliography of Ethical Criticism
505
Index of Subjects
535
Index of Names and Titles
549
Copyright

10
292

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About the author (1988)

Wayne C. Booth (1921-2005) was George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor of English at the University of Chicago.

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