Critical Understanding: The Powers and Limits of Pluralism

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University of Chicago Press, 1979 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 408 pages
Critics will always disagree, but, maintains Wayne Booth, their disagreement need not result in critical chaos. In Critical Understanding, Booth argues for a reasoned pluralism—a criticism more various and resourceful than can be caught in any one critic's net. He relates three noted pluralists—Ronald Crane, Kenneth Burke, and M. H. Abrams—to various currently popular critical approaches. Throughout, Booth tests the abstractions of metacriticism against particular literary works, devoting a substantial portion of his discussion to works by W. H. Auden, Henry James, Oliver Goldsmith, and Anatole France.
 

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Contents

The Plurality of Modes as a Problem
1
Ronald Crane and the Pluralism of Discrete Modes
37
The Multiplication
99
Literature and Criticism as Equipment for Living
114
The Tests of a Good Terministic Screen
121
Burkes Reply
127
Histories
139
Reduction of a Story to Static Arguments
149
The Need
235
Violations of Common Knowledge of Data
244
Modes as a Source
250
Our Many Different Businesses with Art
259
Thais
319
Overstanding Once Again
335
Appendix
351
Index of Concepts
379

History as Literary Criticism
159
Abrams Reply
175
The Pursuit of Understanding as a Limit of Pluralism
197

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About the author (1979)

Wayne C. Booth (1921–2005) was the George Pullman Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. His many books include The Rhetoric of Fiction, A Rhetoric of Irony, The Power and Limits of Pluralism, The Vocation of a Teacher, and Forthe Love of It, all published by the University of Chicago Press.

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