Tuesday, November 21, 2006

a note on irony

for kasey mohammad

I once had a student who wrote a paper about the joys of deer hunting, including a vivid description of the thrill that "coursed through" his veins as he cut the deer's throat and watched the life dying in those "large, beautiful, child-like eyes." It was evident to me that he was satirizing blood sport. But I found, in what seems now to have been one of the most ineffectual conferences I have ever had with a student, that my ironic reading was to him plain crazy. I made the mistake of lingering over his bloodthirsty phrases, trying to explain to him why I had thought them ironic. But he was simply baffled, as well he might be; to read irony in any one of his statements was to misunderstand his entire perception of what his life and the deer's were all about. Wrestling with irony, he and I were not talking only about "verbal" matters; we were driven into debate about how a man should live. [Wayne Booth, The Rhetoric of Irony (University of Chicago Press, 1974), page 38]

1 comment:

Mark Wallace said...

I'll be interested in your take on my forthcoming article on Kasey's work that will be appearing this winter in a mgazine being published by Stan Apps.