Wayne C(layson) Booth Denis Donoghue - Essay

Denis Donoghue

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Professor Booth spends some time on the definition of irony [in A Rhetoric of Irony]: it is present, according to his account, when the surface meaning of a passage must be rejected, and another, incongruous, and "higher" meaning must be reached by reconstructing the evidence. He finds unacceptable any definition which is too wide to be specifically useful; such as Cleanth Brooks's in The Well Wrought Urn, where irony is "the most general term we have for the kind of qualification which the various elements in a context receive from the context". Professor Booth disapproves of this account because it makes every day an open season, sets every reader hunting. He prefers a strict definition, partly in the...

(The entire section is 682 words.)