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The book The Rhetoric of Fiction, Wayne C. Booth is published by University of Chicago Press.
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File Size:. Print Length:. University of Chicago Press; 2nd edition May 15, Publication Date:. Booth argued not only that it does not matter whether an author—as distinct from the narrator—intrudes directly in a work, since readers will always infer the existence of an author behind any text they encounter, but also that readers always draw conclusions about the beliefs and judgments and also, conclusions about the skills and "success" of a text's implied author, along the text's various lines of interest:.

However impersonal he may try to be, his readers will inevitably construct a picture of the official scribe who writes in this manner -- and of course that official scribe will never be neutral toward all values. Our reaction to his various commitments, secret or overt, will help to determine our response to the work.


This implied author a widely used term that Booth coined in this book; whom he also called an author's "second self" [3] is the one who "chooses, consciously or unconsciously, what we read; we infer him as an ideal, literary, created version of the real man; he is the sum of his own choices. In The Rhetoric of Fiction Booth coined the term " unreliable narrator ". Booth also spent several chapters—which include numerous references to and citations from widely recognized works of fiction—describing the various effects that implied authors achieve along the various lines of interest that he identifies, and the pitfalls they fall into, depending upon whether the implied author provides commentary, and upon the degree to which a story's narrator is reliable or unreliable, personal or impersonal.

Booth detailed three "Types of Literary Interest" that are "available for technical manipulation in fiction":. We might call this kind "aesthetic," if to do so did not suggest that a literary form using this interest was necessarily of more artistic value than one based on other interests. We might call this kind "human," if to do so did not imply that 1 and 2 were somehow less than human. A later work is Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent , in which he addresses the question of what circumstances should cause one to change one's mind, discussing what happens in situations where two diametrically opposed systems of belief are in argument.

His central example is an incident at the University of Chicago, when some students and administrators were engaged in fierce debate that eventually degenerated into each side simply reprinting the other side's arguments without comment, believing that the opposing side was so self-evidently absurd that to state its propositions was to refute them. Another book of note is 's The Rhetoric of Irony , in which Booth examines the long tradition of irony and its use in literature. It is probably his second most popular work after The Rhetoric of Fiction.

A later work is The Company We Keep: An Ethics of Fiction, in which he returns to the topic of rhetorical effects in fiction, and "argues for the relocation of ethics to the center of our engagement with literature" cover note, The Company we Keep. The University of Chicago Wayne C.