ISBN-10:
0520062108
ISBN-13:
9780520062108
Pub. Date:
12/15/1989
Publisher:
University of California Press
The Company We Keep: An Ethics of Fiction / Edition 1

The Company We Keep: An Ethics of Fiction / Edition 1

by Wayne C. Booth
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Overview


In The Company We Keep, Wayne C. Booth argues for the relocation of ethics to the center of our engagement with literature.

But the questions he asks are not confined to morality. Returning ethics to its root sense, Booth proposes that the ethical critic will be interested in any effect on the ethos, the total character or quality of tellers and listeners. Ethical criticism will risk talking about the quality of this particular encounter with this particular work. Yet it will give up the old hope for definitive judgments of "good" work and "bad." Rather it will be a conversation about many kinds of personal and social goods that fictions can serve or destroy. While not ignoring the consequences for conduct of engaging with powerful stories, it will attend to that more immediate topic, What happens to us as we read? Who am I, during the hours of reading or listening? What is the quality of the life I lead in the company of these would-be friends?

Through a wide variety of periods and genres and scores of particular works, Booth pursues various metaphors for such engagements: "friendship with books," "the exchange of gifts," "the colonizing of worlds," "the constitution of commonwealths." He concludes with extended explorations of the ethical powers and potential dangers of works by Rabelais, D. H. Lawrence, Jane Austen, and Mark Twain.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780520062108
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 12/15/1989
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 580
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author


Wayne C. Booth (1921-2005) was George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor of English at the University of Chicago.

Table of Contents

Preface

PART I
RELOCATING ETHICAL CRITICISM
I
Introduction: Etbical Criticism, a Banned Discipline?
2
Why Ethical Criticism Fell on Hard Times
3
The Peculiar "Logic" of Evaluative Criticism
4
The Threat of Subjectivism and the Ethics of Craft
5
Who Is Responsible in Ethical Criticism, and for What?

PART II
THE MAKING OF FRIENDS AND COMMONWEALTHS: CRITICISM AS
ETHICAL CULTURE
Introduction: The Turn to Self-Culture
6
Implied Authors as Friends and Pretenders
7
Appraising Some Friends
8
Consequences for Character: The Faking and Making
of the "Self"
9
Appraising Character: Desire against Desire
IO
Figures That "Figure" the Mind: Images and Metaphors
as Constitutive Stories
II
Metaphoric Worlds: Myths, Their Creators and Critics

PART III
DOCTRINAL CRITICISM AND THE REDEMPTIONS OF CODUCTION
Introduction
12
Rabelais and the Challenge of Feminist Criticism
13
Doctrinal Questions in Jane Austen, D. H. Lawrence,
and Mark Twain

Epilogue: The Ethics of Reading
Appendix: An Anthology of Ethical Gifts, Thank-you
Notes, and Warnings
Bibliography of Ethical Criticism
Index of Subjects
Index of Names and Tides

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The Company We Keep: An Ethics of Fiction 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In his usual thorough, encyclopedic way, Booth discusses many of the issues of the effects of fiction in the real world on real people. And as usual, he bends over backward to be fair to everybody. He gives patient, exhaustive treatments of all arguments and claims, even the most idiotic, showing their inadequacies. But people who put forth idiotic arguments do not do so because they are stupid but because they are committed, and committed people do not respond to reason, however patient and thorough. Still, there is much thought-provoking material here, and the book should be read by all readers interested in the personal and social effects of literature. Booth is weakest when dealing with philosophical issues (because he is not a philosopher). His confusions about subjectivism and relativism are cases in point. For a competent discussion of these and the other ethical (i.e. value-theoretic) issues, readers would be better advised to get A Book Worth Reading. But as a compendium of arguments ¿clearing away the dead wood¿, Booth is impossible to beat.