Ohio State Press Rhetoric & Pluralism

Rhetoric and Pluralism: Legacies of Wayne Booth. Frederik Antczak, editor. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1995.

In the Acknowledgments for Rhetoric and Pluralism, Frederick Antczak expresses thanks “to Wayne Booth, for his inspiration, his humour (some puns excepted) and the ethical quality of his intellectual engagement.” Antczak continues to praise Booth in the introduction by assessing Booth’s reception in other venues: “It is clear that these claims for originality and force of Booth’s contributions are far from perfunctory as they are from dismissive; they are sincere high praise” (1). Even with Antczak’s unmitigated admiration for Booth, his encomium does not become maudlin or overdone.

Antczak manages to balance praise with critical inquiry. His praise outlines the “good reasons” to compile essays based solely on one scholar’s work, while Antczak’s critical inquiry asks: now what? Booth has produced a remarkable, extensive body of work: Antczak asks what profit and pleasure do we get from Wayne Booth’s company? The essays in Rhetoric and Pluralism answer Antczak’s question from a variety of perspectives. Each essay places Booth in different critical positions, which produce a chorus of critical thought. In the Afterword, Booth discusses these voices through a self-reflexive exercise that evaluates his “chorus of selves” (280)

The following critical survey will, hopefully, illuminate these voices and provide a comprehensive view of this remarkable collection. Each essay will not be dealt with separately but discussed in relation to the thematic scheme of the text.