A Grammar of Motives

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University of California Press, 1969 - Literary Criticism - 530 pages
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"A Grammar of Motives," published in 1945, is the first volume of a gigantic trilogy, planned to include A Rhetoric of Motives and A Symbolic of Motives, which will be called something like On Human Relations. The aim of the whole series is no less than the comprehensive exploration of human motives and the forms of thought and expression built around them, and its ultimate object, expression in the epigraph: 'ad bellum purificandum, ' is to eliminate the whole world of conflict that can be eliminated through understanding. The method or key metaphor for the study is 'drama' or 'dramatism, ' and the basic terms of analysis are the dramatistic pentad: Act, Scene, Agent, Agency, and Purpose. The Grammar, which Burke confesses in the Introduction grew from a prolegomena of a few hundred words to nearly 200,000, is a consideration of the purely internal relationship of these five terms, 'their possibilities of transformation, their range of permutations and combinations'..."--Stanley Edgar Hyman, author of The Armed Vision

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Ignore that first review - this book is a classic.

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This is a TERRIBLE book. Trust me, you really don't want it. At all. It's horrid. It's a load of bull. If you're going to buy it, I hope you are using it only for fire starter because that is about all it is good for. If you actually attempt to read this book... good for you, good luck.


Container and Thing Contained
Antinomies of Definition
Scope and Reduction
Agent in General
Agency and Purpose
The Dialectic of Constitutions
Limits and Powers of a Constitution
Essentializing and Proportional Strategies of Interpretation
Political Rhetoric as Secular Prayer
Dialectic in General
A Symbolic Action in a Poem by Keats
B The Problem of the Intrinsic
Motives and Motifs in the Poetry of Marianne Moore
The Four Master Tropes

Terminal as Anecdote
Five Basic Terms as Beginning
Strategic Choice of Circumference for Freedom

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About the author (1969)

Kenneth Burke has been termed "simply the finest literary critic in the world, and perhaps the finest since Coleridge" (Stanley Edgar Hyman, The New Leader). Mr. Burke has published ten other works with the University of California Press: Towards a Better Life (1966); Language as Symbolic Action: Essays on Life, Literature, and Method (1966) Collected Poems, 1915-1967 (1968); The Complete White Oxen: Collected Short Fiction of Kenneth Burke (1968); A Grammar of Motives (1969); Permanence and Change: An Anatomy of Purpose (1984); The Philosophy of Literary Form (1974); A Rhetoric of Motives (1969); The Rhetoric of Religion: Studies in Logology (1970); and Attitudes Toward History, Third Edition (1984).

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