Review: Booth, The Essential Wayne Booth

January 31, 2007
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jacket imageThe January/February edition of the American Book Review includes a nice piece on Wayne C. Booth’s recent The Essential Wayne Booth—a collection of the late rhetorician and literary scholar’s best work, edited by Walter Jost. James Phelan writes for the Review:

The seventeen essays, which Jost chose in consultation with Booth, effectively display the range of topics the critic addressed over his long career… [constituting] an excellent one volume introduction to Booth’s thought.

And though delivering a comprehensive picture of the author’s multifaceted career, as Phelan notes, the essays collected here are unified by Booth’s perennial interest in “the multilayered relationship between author and audience” and his profound faith in the written word to bridge the divide between the two. Phelan’s review concludes:

Booth’s influence on so many spheres of inquiry is convincing evidence of the power of his rhetorical faith and his skill in communicating it. The Essential Wayne Booth is an important book because it puts that power and that skill on display on almost every page.

A capstone to Booth’s long career, The Essential Wayne Booth is indeed an essential work by one of the most influential literary critics of our time.

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