Language as Symbolic Action Essays on Life, Literature, and Method

ISBN-10: 0520001923
ISBN-13: 9780520001923
Edition: 1966 (Reprint)
Authors: Kenneth Burke
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Description: From the Preface:The title for this collection was the title of a course in literary criticism that I gave for many years at Bennington College. And much of the material presented here was used in that course. The title should serve well to convey  More...

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Book details

List price: $38.95
Copyright year: 1966
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 7/1/1968
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 532
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.25" long x 1.25" tall
Weight: 1.760

From the Preface:The title for this collection was the title of a course in literary criticism that I gave for many years at Bennington College. And much of the material presented here was used in that course. The title should serve well to convey the gist of these various pieces. For all of them are explicitly concerned with the attempt to define and track down the implications of the term "symbolic action," and to show how the marvels of literature and language look when considered form that point of view.

Born in Pittsburgh, Burke was educated at Ohio State and Columbia universities. During his early career, he became involved with a number of little magazines, including Broom and Secession. He also wrote for The Dial and The Nation as a music critic. His greatest fame, however, has been as a literary critic. Omnivorously eclectic, Burke has found in the analysis of human symbolic activities a key to the largest cultural issues. For Burke, literature is the most prominent and sophisticated form of "symbolic action," one that provides "equipment for living" by allowing us to try out hypothetical strategies for dealing with the endless variety of human situations and experiences. Human society demands some principle of order, but the language and reason that create order can fall into rigid abstractions that can be destructive and violently imposed. Literature shows us an image of sacrifice, forgiveness, and flexibility that plays an important role in keeping society functioning flexibly. Burke's writing is extensive, complex and wide ranging, but also unique and uniquely important among current critical approaches.

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