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The Rhetoric of Fiction von Wayne C. Booth
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The Rhetoric of Fiction (Original 1961; 1983. Auflage)

von Wayne C. Booth (Autor)

MitgliederRezensionenBeliebtheitDurchschnittliche BewertungDiskussionen
783922,222 (4.15)32
How do novelists communicate with their readers and involve us with their characters? In this book, the author answers this question with analyses of many kinds of narrative - from Homer to Hemingway, from the Book of Job to James Joyce. He considers, for example, how Henry James uses unreliable narrators (who reveal far more than they are aware of), how Jane Austen controls our sympathy and judgement and how objective novelists such as Flaubert convey their beliefs and values as clearly as prophets like D.H.Lawrence.… (mehr)
Mitglied:jencharlap
Titel:The Rhetoric of Fiction
Autoren:Wayne C. Booth (Autor)
Info:University of Chicago Press (1983), Edition: 2nd, 572 pages
Sammlungen:Deine Bibliothek
Bewertung:
Tags:literary criticism, literary theory, rhetoric

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The Rhetoric of Fiction von Wayne C. Booth (1961)

Kürzlich hinzugefügt vonulisin, conduitforsale, aszilvasy, ZadeB, BoraKamcez, Jared_Runck, drakeg, krsf1990
NachlassbibliothekenRalph Ellison, Danilo Kiš
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got to page 283. it's really good to learn the basic principles of the craft, but then I wanted works that dealt with the art of short stories specifically.
  AminBoussif | Sep 22, 2021 |
(Original Review, 1981-03-28)

When Booth came up with the idea of the "unreliable narrator," he wasn't speaking to writers; he was reminding critics and teachers and readers in general of something every decent writer of fiction has always known: that a narrator is a voice, and a voice is a character, and is still a character - a created fictional person - whether it has a name or is just an apparently omniscient intermediary. The idea that this particular character must for some reason be an honest (much less an accurate) portrait of the author himself is just silly, but it's a silliness that a great many critics once allowed themselves to fall into. If Hammett's voice in Falcon is anything, it's purposeful and controlled, and he had to have worked very hard on it. The idea that that voice must also be Hammett or Heinlein themselves... well, I don't think fatuous is too strong a word. We have had very little of that kind of fatuous talk around here (thank goodness), but at times we – me, as much as anyone – have gone off in the opposite direction and assumed that because we can find something in Falcon Hammett or in Strange Heinlein, must have meant for it to matter more than the story itself. In other words, I know there’s a line but I don’t know exactly where to draw it - and I suppose that all I want from you is a reassurance that you agree that that line is lurking somewhere quite close by.

This is one of the books that made me appreciate Robert A. Heinlein even more. [2018 EDIT: And K. J. Parker in this day and age; if you want to know what it means to write sucessful "unreliable narrators" look no further.]

(By the way, the idea that there are male equivalents to femmes fatales is strangely familiar to me...) ( )
  antao | Dec 8, 2018 |
Great read! I learned a lot about why authors in the post-Flaubert/Henry James era of modern fiction became so obsessed with eliminating all traces of narratorial commentary from their novels (that is, why modern fiction sought to privilege "showing" over "telling"), and Booth does a great job of questioning what should certainly be seen as an ideological insistence on certain modes of storytelling that only rarely question their own premises. That is, if Henry James was really quite responsible and dedicated in his discussions of why the presentation of dramatic scenes where stories more or less tell themselves, he also seemed to understand that this was an ideal that no text achieves. As Booth demonstrates, you can disguise the "telling" of a story in a lot of different ways so that it looks like the narrator isn't intruding on the narrative and injecting his or her own subjective views on the matter at hand, but you can't completely avoid using strategies that show your hand as the story's creator in various subtle ways.

The Rhetoric of Fiction gives some great practical guidance for readers of novels. I feel like I'm much more attuned to some of the subtleties of novel writing than I was before. I don't necessarily agree with his overarching concern with rescuing a certain moral function for the novel (that is, as he himself admits in an afterword written 20 years after the book's original publication, he is rather overzealous in his condemnation of books like Céline's Voyage au bout de la nuit due to their immorality), but his own historically-situated conclusions don't take anything away from his analyses of modern fiction. And, in fact, they're challenging in that I don't want to agree with his insistence on the moral function of fiction, but I'm not sure I have good reasons for disagreeing.

It's always refreshing to read classics like this, and I'd definitely recommend it. The Rhetoric of Fiction helped me understand late-19th and early-20th century literature in ways I hadn't necessarily thought of before. ( )
1 abstimmen msjohns615 | Aug 22, 2016 |
Admittedly, I am only about 30 pages into the book, and I realize that the original edition was written in 1961, but I find myself balking at the notion of "the author's voice" (I guess I've read too much Barthes) and also at the preponderance of the male pronoun when it comes to discussing the author (too much feminist theory). But when I take all of my poststructuralist leanings away, I find that this book will be eventually very useful for teaching formal approaches to fiction, as its tone, structure, and analytical approach are clear and crisp, and not laden with the sometimes useless questioning and undermining of the text that sometimes complicates the usefulness of later literary theory. This appears to me so far to be the apex of "literary criticism" as opposed to theory, and as a closet structuralist, I am enjoying it so far. ( )
  voncookie | Jun 30, 2016 |
Admittedly, I am only about 30 pages into the book, and I realize that the original edition was written in 1961, but I find myself balking at the notion of "the author's voice" (I guess I've read too much Barthes) and also at the preponderance of the male pronoun when it comes to discussing the author (too much feminist theory). But when I take all of my poststructuralist leanings away, I find that this book will be eventually very useful for teaching formal approaches to fiction, as its tone, structure, and analytical approach are clear and crisp, and not laden with the sometimes useless questioning and undermining of the text that sometimes complicates the usefulness of later literary theory. This appears to me so far to be the apex of "literary criticism" as opposed to theory, and as a closet structuralist, I am enjoying it so far. ( )
  anna_hiller | Jun 22, 2016 |
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"It is the first necessity of the novelist's position that he make himself pleasant." --TROLLOPE

"My task...is to make you see." --CONRAD

"Until these things are judged and given each its appointed place in the whole scheme, they have no meaning in the world of art." --KATHERINE MANSFIELD, protesting the method of Dorothy Richardson

"The author makes his readers, just as he makes his characters." --HENRY JAMES

"I write; let the reader learn to read." --MARK HARRIS
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One of the most obviously artificial devices of the storyteller is the trick of going beneath the surface of the action to obtain a reliable view of a character's mind and heart.
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My goal is not to set everyone straight about my favourite novelists but rather to free both readers and novelists from the constraints of abstract rules about what novelists must do, by reminding them in a systematic way about what novelists have in fact done.
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How do novelists communicate with their readers and involve us with their characters? In this book, the author answers this question with analyses of many kinds of narrative - from Homer to Hemingway, from the Book of Job to James Joyce. He considers, for example, how Henry James uses unreliable narrators (who reveal far more than they are aware of), how Jane Austen controls our sympathy and judgement and how objective novelists such as Flaubert convey their beliefs and values as clearly as prophets like D.H.Lawrence.

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