A Rhetoric of Irony by Wayne C. Booth

By Wayne C. Booth

Possibly no different severe label has been made to hide extra floor than "irony," and in our time irony has come to have such a lot of meanings that on its own it capacity nearly not anything. during this paintings, Wayne C. sales space cuts throughout the ensuing confusions by means of studying how we be ready to proportion fairly particular ironies—and why we frequently fail once we try and accomplish that. How does a reader or listener realize the type of assertion which calls for him to reject its "clear" and "obvious" that means? and the way does any reader understand the place to forestall, as soon as he has launched into the damaging and exhilarating course of rejecting "what the phrases say" and reconstructing "what the writer means"?

In the 1st and longer a part of his paintings, sales space offers with the workings of what he calls "stable irony," irony with a transparent rhetorical reason. He then turns to meant instabilities—ironies that withstand interpretation and at last bring about the "infinite absolute negativities" that experience obsessed feedback because the Romantic interval.

Professor sales space is often paradoxically acutely aware that not anyone can fathom the unfathomable. yet through taking a look heavily at risky ironists like Samuel Becket, he exhibits that not less than a few of our commonplaces approximately meaninglessness require revision. ultimately, he explores—with the aid of Plato—the wry paradoxes that threaten any uncompromising statement that each one statement may be undermined via the spirit of irony.

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Anatole France, Penguin Islalld (1908), Book 4, chap. 4. "Les avaient la premiere a rm ee du monde. " 18. In Jean Cayrol's Les corps eli'angers (Paris, 1959) , for example, the rator tells one contradicto ry story after another about his life ; there is s' no way that I can discover to accept anythin g he says as valid. The final graph starts again , with one more unreliab le version of a life that pe recedes from us: "Je vais tout te dire. Je te jure que je ne vais pas arranger petite vie. Tout.

Ceble th e irony, will be stronger than a simple " I love you"- unless it ~s reve rsed because the irony has been mi ssed, or weakened because it IS see n as a hint of blame disguised as disguised blame. "You don't thrill me when you hold me, no , not much"--even this drab stroke, from a rece nt popu lar song, implies an intellectual sharing : we not only love cach oth er, we understand each other. It thus runs the risks, and may reap the rewards, implicit in all stable ironies. SOME PLEASURES AND PITFALLS OF IRONY The conclu sion seems inescapable: reconstructions of irony are seldom If eVer red ucible either to gram mar or se mantics or linguistics.

3. All readers a re invited to agree with whatever message they hnve discerned. Eve n the leas t didactic authors, even those who would cringe at the ve ry sugges tion of a message, eve n the purest poets, ask us to join th em in whatever opinions , views, a ttitudes, or emotions they present Or imply, and we have difficulty res istin g a decision for or again st them. Even if an author presents no argument or position, claimi ng strict objectivity, indiffere nce to the reader, Or aesthetic impa SS ivity, th e reader will find him self choosing, perhaps uncon sciously , to acce pt or reject the pose, Or stand , or tone, or cl aim to poetic craft.

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