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The Rhetoric of Redemption

Chesterton, Ethical Criticism, and the Common Man

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Alan R. Blackstock

The Rhetoric of Redemption: Chesterton, Ethical Criticism, and the Common Man examines the literary criticism written by G. K. Chesterton between 1902 and 1913 from a rhetorical standpoint to ascertain whether Chesterton did in fact create the «criticism for the common man» he aimed for. To answer this question, this book explores the relationships among writers, readers, books, and critics both during the time Chesterton first began writing and in the context of rhetorical and critical tradition from Plato to the present day. Ultimately, this book argues that Chesterton's unorthodox approach to literature, while still dismissed by the academic establishment, raises fundamental questions about the nature and function of literature and criticism that need to be raised anew in every generation and especially in the wake of each new critical episteme.
The Rhetoric of Redemption is extremely useful for both scholars and students of literary criticism and Chesterton enthusiasts who are interested in his approach to literature. This book would also be a valuable resource for courses in nineteenth-century British literature, literary criticism, and rhetorical analysis.

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Acknowledgments......................................................................................... vii Introduction..................................................................................................... 1 Chapter One “Let Us Begin With Truisms”: Criticism and the Common Man..................................................................... 3 Chapter Two “Singing With an Object”: Rhetoric, Audience, and Chesterton ............................................................. 15 Chapter Three “I Could Not Help Being a Controversialist”: Chesterton and His Readers .......................................................................... 23 Chapter Four “The Real Gospel of Dickens”: Chesterton and the Audience for Criticism................................................... 33 Chapter Five “A Tongue Understanded of the People”: Chesterton on Newman, Carlyle, and Ruskin ............................................... 47 Chapter Six “With Considerable Art”: Chesterton on Blake, Browning, and Shaw .................................................. 61 Chapter Seven “The Very Temper of the Age”: The Romantic Revolt from Victorian Rationalism ....................................... 85 Chapter Eight “The Fin de Siècle Atmosphere”: Aestheticism vs. Ethical Criticism at the Turns of the Centuries.................. 95 ALAN R. BLACKSTOCK vi Chapter Nine “Rational Self-Completion”: Chesterton, the Virtues, and Ethical Criticism............................................ 107 Afterword Liberal Humanism and Ethical Criticism in Today’s Academy ................. 123 Works Cited ................................................................................................ 125 Index ........................................................................................................... 131

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