- The Rhetoric of Fiction
- University of Chicago Press, Chicago
- In this book, Booth argues that all narrative is a form of rhetoric, that is, an argument on the part of author in defense of his or her "various commitments, secret or overt [that] determine our response to the work" (The Rhetoric of Fiction 71). The majority of these commitments are based on morals and morality, Booth argues. The speaker in narrative is the author or, more specifically, the implied author, which Booth also calls an author's "second self" who "chooses, consciously or unconsciously, what we read; we infer him as an ideal, literary, created version of the real man; he is the sum of his own choices" (The Rhetoric of Fiction 74-75) (the term "second self" was actually created by Kathleen Tillotson).
The implied author is a compromise between old-fashioned biographical criticism, the new critics who argued that one can only talk about what the text says, and modern criticism that argued for the "eradication" of authorial presence. Booth argued that it is impossible to talk about a text without talking about an author, because the existence of the text implies the existence of an author. Booth's argument was, particularly, a response to modern critics who, starting from Henry James, emphasized the difference between "showing" and "telling" in fiction, always placing a premium on the importance of "showing." Such a distinction is deeply flawed according to Booth, for authors routinely both show and tell, deciding which technique to use based on their aesthetic decisions about which way to convey their "commitments." Authors often make their own contributions in their works, and they also include those of narrators, whether reliable, unreliable, partial or impartial. Booth notes the important differences among these contributors, however, pointing out that the author is distinct from the narrator of the text. He uses the examples of stories with an unreliable narrator to prove this point, observing that, in these stories, the whole point of the story is lost if one confuses narrator and author.
- Sigmund Freud: Life and Work
- Abridged by Lionel Trilling and Stephen Marcus. Introduction by Lionel Trilling. Basic Books, New York
- See also: Sigmund Freud
Quotes from the above article:
- the quality of books should be measured not by how they are written, but by how they are read.
- literary readers [in contrast to "unliterary"] reread books many times, savoring certain passages, and attempting to glean more from subsequent readings. ... literary readers define themselves by their favorite books.
- judging books by whether they are "lowbrow" or "highbrow" is not necessarily fruitful; many "lowbrow" books prove to be valuable to a literary reader willing to approach without prejudgment.
- books classified as "lowbrow", such as science fiction, are also capable of inducing a passion to re-read and imparting experience which changes reader's worldview.
- books which are capable of doing this may prove to have enduring merit regardless of their genre of origin.
- attempting to judge the literary merit of books based on traditional criteria may not prove fruitful.
- Minds, Machines and Gödel
- Philosophy, XXXVI, 1961, pp. 112-127. html
- Evolution and the Theory of Games
- Journal of Theoretical Biology, Vol. 1, No. 3. pp. 382-403