The Literary Salon

A free salon wherein patrons and passers-by may view or contribute ideas on literary and generally intellectual matters. The blog will strive to maintain its commitment to wit, humour and perspicuous analysis.

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Location: Toronto, now Ottawa, Ont, Canada

Friday, October 14, 2005

RIP, Mr. Booth

I received the sad news today that Wayne Booth has died at the age of 84.

He was one of the few literary critics of the past 30 years worth reading. Though I haven't read too much of him (I've read chapters of his monumental Rhetoric of Fiction as well as other articles, including his piece on irony in Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which I argued against in a 4th year paper), whatever I did read was clear, honest and interesting, three criteria that are sadly lacking from most criticism of the past 20 years. What I found funny in the NYT obituary is that his works are dubbed "required reading." This was probably true before I was born, but most MA students in English, let alone undergrads, have probably never heard his name, though at the very least Rhetoric of Fiction should be required reading, alongside Anatomy of Criticism and The Well Wrought Urn.

If I ever make something of myself (for what it's worth, I receive my M.A this week), Booth will be one of those I must credit alongside Frye, Brooks, Wimsatt and some wonderful professors I had at York, most of whom have retired or are retiring. Add to this Dr. J, who was never my teacher in fact, but who nevertheless influenced me in significant yet now invisible ways. Frankly, I don't have much faith in the new school of professors, but that's another matter.

RIP, Mr. Booth. May you once again claim your place among the critical pantheon.


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