Essays Toward a Symbolic of Motives, 1950-1955
Parlor Press LLC, 2007 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 315 pages
In August, 1959, an anxious William Rueckert wrote Kenneth Burke to ask, "When on earth is that perpetually 'forthcoming' A Symbolic of Motives forthcoming? Will it be soon enough so that I can wait for it before I complete my book [Kenneth Burke and the Drama of Human Relations]? If the Symbolic is not forthcoming soon, would it be too much trouble for you to send me a list of exactly what will be included in the book, and some idea of the structure of the book?" Burke replied, "Holla! If you're uncomfortable, think how uncomfortable I am. But I'll do the best I can. . . ." In the course of their long correspondence, the nature of the Symbolic-Burke's much-anticipated third volume in his Motivorum trilogy-vexed both men, and they discussed its contents often. Ultimately, Burke left the job of pulling it all together to Rueckert. Forty-eight years after they first discussed the Symbolic, Rueckert has fulfilled his end of the bargain with this book, Essays Toward a Symbolic of Motives, 1950-1955. ESSAYS TOWARD A SYMBOLIC OF MOTIVES, 1950--1955 contains the work Burke planned to include in the third book in his Motivorum trilogy, which began with A Grammar of Motives (1945) and A Rhetoric of Motives (1950). In these essays-some of which appear here in print for the first time-Burke offers his most precise and elaborated account of his dramatistic poetics, providing readers with representative analyses of such writers as Aeschylus, Goethe, Hawthorne, Roethke, Shakespeare, and Whitman. Following Rueckert's Introduction, Burke lays out his approach in essays that theorize and illustrate the method, which he considered essential for understanding language as symbolic action and human relations generally. Burke concludes with a focused account of humans as symbol-using and misusing animals and then offers his tour de force reading of Goethe's Faust. About the Author KENNETH BURKE (1897-1993) is the author of many books, including the landmark predecessors in the Motivorum trilogy: A Grammar of Motives (1945) and A Rhetoric of Motives (1950). He has been hailed as one of the most original thinkers of the twentieth century and possibly the greatest rhetorician since Cicero. Paul Jay refers to him as "the most theoretically challenging, unorthodox, and sophisticated of twentieth-century speculators on literature and culture." Geoffrey Hartman praises him as "the wild man of American criticism." According to Scott McLemee, Burke may have "accidentally create[d] cultural studies." About the Editor William H. Rueckert, the "Dean of Burke Studies," has authored or edited numerous groundbreaking books and articles on Kenneth Burke, including the landmark study, Kenneth Burke and the Drama of Human Relations (1963, 1982). His correspondence with Burke was collected in Letters from Kenneth Burke to William H. Rueckert, 1959-1987 (Parlor, 2003). His most recent book is Faulkner From Within-Destructive and Generative Being in the Novels of William Faulkner (Parlor, 2004)."
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