A Rhetoric of Motives

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University of California Press, 1969 - Literary Criticism - 340 pages
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As critic, Kenneth Burke's preoccupations were at the beginning purely esthetic and literary; but after Counter-Statement (1931), he began to discriminate a "rhetorical" or persuasive component in literature, and thereupon became a philosopher of language and human conduct.

In A Grammar of Motives (1945) and A Rhetoric of Motives (1950), Burke's conception of "symbolic action" comes into its own: all human activities--linguisitc or extra-linguistic--are modes of symbolizing; man is defined as the symbol-using (and -misusing) animal. The critic's job becomes one of the interpreting human symbolizing wherever he finds it, with the aim of illuminating human motivation. Thus the reach of the literary critic now extends to the social and ethical.

A Grammar of Motives is a "methodical meditation" on such complex linguistic forms as plays, stories, poems, theologies, metaphysical systems, political philosophies, constitutions. A Rhetoric of Motives expands the field to human ways of persuasion and identification. Persuasion, as Burke sees it, "ranges from the bluntest quest of advantage, as in sales promotion or propaganda, through courtship, social etiquette, education, and the sermon, to a 'pure' form that delights in the process of appeal for itself alone, without ulterior purpose. And identification ranges from the politician who, addressing an audience of farmers, says, 'I was a farm boy myself,' through the mysteries of social status, to the mystic's devout identification with the sources of all being."
 

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User Review  - 06nwingert - LibraryThing

Kenneth Burke is verbose, but he is still the authority on rhetoric and language. A Rhetoric of Motives is one of his books on those subjects and are useful for students in higher education. Read full review

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It's an important book, not a great book. Burke's Grammar of Motives is the more compelling and intellectually mature work.

Contents

THE RANGE OF RHETORIC
3
Quality of Arnolds Imagery
9
Tragic Terms for Personality Types
15
The Identifying Natureof Property
23
The Autonomy of Science
29
Ingenuous and Cunning Identifications
35
Realistic Function of Rhetoric
43
TRADITIONAL PRINCIPLES OF RHETORIC
49
ORDER
183
Ultimate Elements in the Marxist Persuasion
189
Sociology of Knowledge vs Platonic Myth
197
Mythic Ground and Context of Situation
203
Socioanagogic Interpretation of Venus and Adonis
212
Castiglione
221
Kafka The Castle
233
A Dialectical Lyric Kierkegaards Fear and Trembling
244

Identification
55
Formal Appeal
65
Imagination
78
Image and Idea
84
Rhetorical Analysis in Bentham
90
Marx on Mystification
101
Terministic Reservations in View of Cromwells Motives
110
Empson on Pastoral Identification
123
Priority of the Idea
132
Diderot on Pantomime
142
De Gourmont on Dissociation
149
Administrative Rhetoric in Machiavelli
158
Dantes De Vulgari Eloquentia
167
Infancy Mystery and Persuasion
174
The Kill and the Absurd
252
Order the Secret and the Kill
260
Pure Persuasion
267
Rhetorical Radiance of the Divine
294
SOCIAL RATING OF IMAGES IN JAMES
296
RHETORICAL NAMES FOR GOD
298
THE RANGE OF MOUNTINGS
301
ELATION AND ACCIDIE IN HOPKINS
313
YEATS I BYZANTIUM AND THE LAST POEMS
316
early poems and Quartets
318
principle of the oxymoron
324
ultimate identification
328
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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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