A Rhetoric of Irony by Wayne C. Booth

By Wayne C. Booth

Maybe 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 potential virtually not anything. during this paintings, Wayne C. sales space cuts throughout the ensuing confusions by way of interpreting how we have the capacity to percentage rather particular ironies—and why we regularly fail once we attempt to 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 prevent, as soon as he has launched into the damaging and exhilarating direction 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 at last result in the "infinite absolute negativities" that experience obsessed feedback because the Romantic interval.

Professor sales space is usually satirically acutely aware that nobody can fathom the unfathomable. yet by means of having a look heavily at risky ironists like Samuel Becket, he indicates 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 by means of the spirit of irony.

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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.

See also Blake's couplets: Thank God, I never was sent to school ... To be Flog 'd into following the Style of a Fool. The Errors of a Wise Man m ake your Rule Rather th an the Perfections of a Fool. (B lake: Complete Writings, ed. p. ) 39 Stable Irony and (4) whether the ironist was justified in forcing us to go to all of this trouble-is he, finally, writing or speaking well? The last three of these are shared with the reader of non-metaphorical passages, but irony transforms even these. The first is shared in some degree with readers of other figurative writing, but again irony dramatizes and heightens the choices until they are scarcely recognizable.

58 14. " Irony in itself opens up dOub ts as SOon as its possibility enters our heads, and there is no inherent reason fOr discontinuing the process of doubt at any point short of infinity. "How do you know th at Fielding was not being ironic in his ostensibly ironic attac k on Mrs. " If I am answered with a citation of other "ha rd" data in the WOrk, r can of CO urse claim that Fielding was ironic in his use of th em. But how do I know th at he was not really pretending to be ironic in their use, not in fact Ironicall y a ttackin g those who take such data without irony ?

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