The Company We Keep (Magill's Literary Annual 1989)
Prominent critics of the late twentieth century have taken turns announcing the death of ethical criticism; in this new book, Wayne Booth dares to declare its rebirth—as well affirming its centrality to the very act of reading and interpreting literature. Despite the daunting task Booth has set for himself in this learned, weighty treatise, he is clearly more than equal to it. During his illustrious academic career, Booth has published a number of important, well-received books on literary theory as well as more than a hundred articles, essays, and reviews on various rhetorical and other literary topics, including the teaching of writing. Since Booth has also served as the coeditor of Critical Inquiry, a preeminent journal of literary theory and criticism, it is not surprising that this current volume should merge two of the reigning interests reflected in his published work: exploring the processes of literacy—how and why writers and readers do what they do—and ascertaining the sources of the value placed on reading literature.
Just as Booth’s first work, The Rhetoric of Fiction (1961), almost single-handedly revived the rhetorical study of fiction, The Company We Keep: An Ethics of Fiction offers the prospect of rehabilitating the notion of evaluative criticism—that is, of assaying the responsibilities authors and readers have to one another and to the texts that bring them together. Booth continues his stabilizing...
(The entire section is 2196 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1989)
Kirkus Reviews. LVI, September 15, 1988, p. 1372.
Library Journal. CXIII, November 15, 1988, p. 74.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. December 18, 1988, p. 3.
The New York Times Book Review. XCIV, January 22, 1989, p. 3.
The Times Literary Supplement. December 16, 1988, p. 1399.
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