For the Love of it: Amateuring and Its Rivals

For the Love of it: Amateuring and Its Rivals


By (author) Wayne C. Booth


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  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Format: Hardback | 246 pages
  • Dimensions: 158mm x 235mm x 22mm | 552g
  • Publication date: 28 May 1999
  • Publication City/Country: Chicago, IL
  • ISBN 10: 0226065855
  • ISBN 13: 9780226065854
  • Edition: 2
  • Edition statement: 2nd

Product description

Why would anyone spend free hours and weekends on a demanding practice that promises no payoff in money, fame, or power? Is it true that anything worth doing is worth doing only if you can get credit for doing it really well? Why do amateurs do what they do? Wayne Booth found himself enticed by these questions after taking up the cello at age 31 and then experiencing decades not just of unforeseen struggle but of comic and humiliating disasters - followed by hours of astonishing bliss playing chamber music. This book tells the story not only of this intimate struggle between man and cello but also of the larger struggle between a society obsessed with success and payoff and individuals who choose challenging hobbies that yield no payoff except the love of it. This fundamental opposition leads Booth into diverse meditations on how amateuring relates to all other loves and pleasures. In his celebration of how the amateur's labouring can blossom, he thus joins a long line of thinkers who have puzzled over the meanings of "fun", "work" and "love."

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Author information

Wayne C. Booth (1921-2005) was the George Pullman Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. His many books include "The Rhetoric of Fiction," " A Rhetoric of Irony," " The Power and Limits of Pluralism," "The Vocation of a Teacher," and "For""the Love of It," all published by the University of Chicago Press.

Review quote

"Hooray for amateurs! And huzzahs to Wayne Booth for honoring them as they deserve. "For the Love of It" celebrates amateurism with genial philosophizing and pointed cultural criticism, as well as with personal reminiscences and self-effacing wit."--James Sloan Allen "USA Today "

Editorial reviews

Veteran literary critic Booth (Univ. of Chicago; The Company We Keep: An Ethics of Fiction, 1988) offers a heartfelt, though somewhat scattered, assertion of the value of avocation. With detailed (sometimes overly detailed) examinations of the many ways that his devotion to chamber music has affected his life and worldview, Booth, who started his lifelong study of the cello in 1952 at the age of 31 (after earlier dalliances with clarinet, piano, and voice), makes a convincing argument for the spiritual, physical, and social benefits of "amateuring." The book, an amalgam of ruminations, journal entries, and polemics on and around the topic of why "the amateur chooses, day by day, hour by hour, to pursue what life does not require," is in many ways a paean to the composers (most particularly Beethoven) whose music the author adores and to the teachers and fellow amateurs (most particularly his wife, a talented violinist) who have shared with him the pain and joy of this devotion. Booth sometimes veers into a fussy, dogmatic tone - on familiar subjects like the evils of passive hobbies or the failure of the school systems to provide a decent musical education - which may make readers impatient for the return of his more starry-eyed, crazy-for-the-cello narrative. For the Love of It would benefit from an accompanying soundtrack; it illustrates a bit too perfectly the dichotomy between rhetoric and music, since often the long passages that attempt to describe the rapture of a specific opus fall short of success. Yet Booth's struggle - both musical and authorial - is so admirable, and his joy in learning so tangible, that many readers will be tempted, as he hopes, "to stop reading and get working on [their] own amateur pursuit." An inspiring exhortation to those who have yet to find passion in pastime. (Kirkus Reviews)

Table of contents

Contents Acknowledgments Overture: What Is an Amateur--And Why Amateuring Matters First Movement: The Courtship 1 : Getting It into My Bones 2 : Seduced by the Cello 3 : Amateuring and Rival Pleasures Second Movement: The Marriage 4 : The Zen of Thumb Position Maintenance 5 : Teaching the Love 6 : Meditations of an Aging Pupil Interlude: The Amateur Writer Quarrels with the Amateur Player Third Movement: The Love Fulfilled 7 : Amateur Hours: Disastrous, Not Too Bad, and Just Plain Glorious 8 : Hearing with Your Body: How Playing Transforms Listening 9 : The Three Gifts Fourth Movement: Rising Dissonance, Resolved to Heavenly Harmony 10 : "Making It," Selling Out, and the Future of Amateuring 11 : The Music of the Spheres--But What Spheres? Glossary Bibliography Index