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My Many Selves: The Quest for a Plausible Harmony [NOOK Book]

Overview

In his autobiography, My Many Selves, Wayne C. Booth is less concerned with his professional achievements---though the book by no means ignores his distinguished career---than with the personal vision that emerges from a long life lived thoughtfully. For Booth, even the autobiographical process becomes part of a quest to harmonize the diverse, often conflicting aspects of who he was. To see himself clearly and whole, he broke the self down, personified the fragments, uncovered their roots in his experience ...

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My Many Selves: The Quest for a Plausible Harmony

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Overview

In his autobiography, My Many Selves, Wayne C. Booth is less concerned with his professional achievements---though the book by no means ignores his distinguished career---than with the personal vision that emerges from a long life lived thoughtfully. For Booth, even the autobiographical process becomes part of a quest to harmonize the diverse, often conflicting aspects of who he was. To see himself clearly and whole, he broke the self down, personified the fragments, uncovered their roots in his experience and background, and engaged those selves and experiences in dialogue. Basic to his story and to its lifelong concern with ethics and rhetoric was his Mormon youth in rural Utah. In adulthood he struggled with that background, abandoning most Mormon doctrines, but he retained the identity, ethical questions, and concern with communication that this upbringing gave him.

The uncommon wisdom and careful attention that empower Wayne Booth's many other books cause My Many Selves to transcend its genre, as the best memoirs always do. The book becomes a window through which we who read it will see our own conflicts, our own ongoing struggle to live honestly and ethically in the world.

Wayne Booth died in October 2005, soon after completing work on this autobiography.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780874215359
  • Publisher: Utah State University Press
  • Publication date: 1/31/2006
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 336
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Wayne C. Booth was born February 22, 1921, and died October 10, 2005. Descended from Mormon pioneers, he began as a young man to wrestle with church teachings, a struggle that informed both his decision to root himself in the secular world and his particular interest in the field of rhetoric. He earned a bachelor's degree from Brigham Young University in 1944, a master's in 1947, and a PhD in 1950, both from the University of Chicago.

He was the author of several books, including the highly influential The Rhetoric of Fiction. He argued that as a technique rhetoric can enhance communication between author and reader, not merely manipulate the reader's response. To Professor Booth, literature was not so much words on paper as it was a complex ethical act. The author's task, then, is to draw readers into the web of narrative and hold them there. The critic's task is to tease out the specific rhetorical devices. He later considered rhetoric in a number of forms beyond the narrative, from political discourse to television commercials.

Booth was until 1992 professor of English at the University of Chicago, where he was associated with the Chicago school of literary criticism and became especially well known for his works on rhetoric. A former president of the Modern Language Association and founder and editor of the journal Critical Inquiry, his widely influential books have included The Rhetoric of Fiction, Now Don't Try to Reason with Me: Essays and Ironies for a Credulous Age, A Rhetoric of Irony, Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent, Critical Understanding: The Powers and Limits of Pluralism, The Company We Keep: An Ethics of Fiction, and For the Love of It: Amateuring and Its Rivals (based largely on his devotion to cello playing).

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Table of Contents

Preface ix
Part I My Toughest "Self-Splits" and What Produced Them 1
1 A Devout Mormon Is Challenged by Rival Selves 3
2 A Pious Moralist Confronts a Cheater 33
3 The Cheerful Poser Comforts a Griever or, A Would-be Tough Guy Meets Grief and Conceals the Tears 49
4 My Many Selves Confront the Man Who Believes in Love 77
5 Ambition vs. Teaching for the Love of It 95
6 The Hypocritical Mormon Missionary Becomes a Skillful Masker, and Discovers "Hypocrisy-Upward" 117
7 The Puritan Preaches at the Luster While the Hypocrite Covers the Show 135
8 The Lover Becomes a Trapped Army Private 153
9 An Egalitarian Quarrels Scornfully with a Hypocritical Bourgeois 167
10 A College Dean Struggles to Escape 181
Part II The Splits Multiply-in Somewhat Less Torturous Form 197
11 The Quarrel between the Cheater and the Moralist Produces Gullible-Booth 199
12 A Wandering Generalist Longs to Be a True Scholar 209
13 A Would-be Novelist Mourns behind the Would-be Lover and Would-be Scholar 221
14 The Committed Father and Husband, as Lover, Shouts "For Shame!" at All the Other Selves 235
15 The Man of Peace Tries to Tame the Slugger 251
Interlude: A Potpourri of Chapters I Refuse to Write (Let Alone Include) 263
Part III Aging, Religion, and-Surprise!-the Quest for a Plausible Harmony 269
16 The Old Fart Debates with a Bunch of Young Booths, While Posing as Younger Than 84 271
17 Harmony at Last? 289
Index 310
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