A Rhetoric of Irony by Wayne C. Booth

By Wayne C. Booth

Possibly no different serious label has been made to hide extra flooring than "irony," and in our time irony has come to have such a lot of meanings that on its own it skill nearly not anything. during this paintings, Wayne C. sales space cuts in the course of the ensuing confusions by means of reading how we be able to percentage relatively particular ironies—and why we frequently fail once we try and achieve this. 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 recognize the place to forestall, as soon as he has launched into the harmful 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 purpose. He then turns to meant instabilities—ironies that face up to interpretation and eventually bring about the "infinite absolute negativities" that experience obsessed feedback because the Romantic interval.

Professor sales space is often paradoxically acutely aware that nobody can fathom the unfathomable. yet through taking a look heavily at risky ironists like Samuel Becket, he indicates that at the least 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 every one statement should be undermined by way of the spirit of irony.

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For a brilliant discussion of the rhetoric of this scene , including its' see Kenneth Burke's "Antony in Behalf of the Play," Th e Philosophy oj Form (Baton Rouge , 1941), sec. 3. 42 ~ -~-.. R econstruct ions and Judgm ents in looking down on repudiated worlds can be see n in a further examIe. In the Institutio aratoria Quintilian tells of a speech by Cicero: me ," Cicero said of Clodius, "your well known integrity' has cleared yo u of all blame, your modesty has saved you, your past life has bee n you r salvation.

P. 1 62 I ast for the moment-allow violations of an unstated logical law : if ~ is greater than B, in a given dimension, B cannot be greater than A 'n that same dimension, provided we keep our definitions univocal. We ~n the ironic com unity here are thus a crowd of arrant dogmatists, J ven as we sav~ ce's underrninings of other dogmatists. Dramatic irony. rama has always been especially given to effects e depending on the au or's providing, early in the play, information that will point to an ironic effect later on.

In the Institutio aratoria Quintilian tells of a speech by Cicero: me ," Cicero said of Clodius, "your well known integrity' has cleared yo u of all blame, your modesty has saved you, your past life has bee n you r salvation. "G Presumably every listener at the time recognized the irony, though the words taken out of context are not clearly ironic. But no liste ner could simply translate the statement into literal terms-so mething like, "Believe me , your well-known dishonesty has Icd evc ryone to blame you, your boastfulness has damned you , your past deeds have been your damnation.

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