Cover image for For the love of it : amateuring and its rivals
For the love of it : amateuring and its rivals
Booth, Wayne C.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
x, 237 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML418.B49 A3 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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For the Love of It is a story not only of one intimate struggle between a man and his cello, but also of the larger struggle between a society obsessed with success and individuals who choose challenging hobbies that yield no payoff except the love of it.

"If, in truth, Booth is an amateur player now in his fifth decade of amateuring, he is certainly not an amateur thinker about music and culture. . . . Would that all of us who think and teach and care about music could be so practical and profound at the same time."--Peter Kountz, New York Times Book Review

"[T]his book serves as a running commentary on the nature and depth of this love, and all the connections it has formed in his life. . . . The music, he concludes, has become part of him, and that is worth the price."--Clea Simon, Boston Globe

"The book will be read with delight by every well-meaning amateur who has ever struggled. . . . Even general readers will come away with a valuable lesson for living: Never mind the outcome of a possibly vain pursuit; in the passion that is expended lies the glory."--John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune

"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

"Wayne Booth, the prominent American literary critic, has written the only sustained study of the interior experience of musical amateurism in recent years, For the Love of It . [It] succeeds as a meditation on the tension between the centrality of music in Booth's life, both inner and social, and its marginality. . . . It causes the reader to acknowledge the heterogeneity of the pleasures involved in making music; the satisfaction in playing well, the pride one takes in learning a difficult piece or passage or technique, the buzz in one's fingertips and the sense of completeness with the bow when the turn is done just right, the pleasure of playing with others, the comfort of a shared society, the joy of not just hearing, but making, the music, the wonder at the notes lingering in the air."-- Times Literary Supplement

Author Notes

A graduate student at the University of Chicago in the late 1940s, when the English Department was dominated by members of the Chicago School of criticism, Wayne Booth returned to his alma mater in the early 1960s and became an exponent of its critical methodology. The Chicago Critics were influenced by the formalistic, rhetorical analysis of the Poetics of Aristotle, which was concerned with the principles of literary construction and literary esthetics. Unlike the New Critics, who shared their interest in formalist analysis of texts, the Chicago Critics emphasized the importance of knowledge about the author and his or her historical context. They considered the New Criticism, which had developed at about the same time, too restrictive in its bracketing of that information as external to the text and therefore incidental to understanding and evaluating it.

The first generation of Chicago School critics, who were Booth's teachers, did not have much impact beyond the university itself. Booth, however, continued to advocate pluralism. Critical Understanding: The Powers and Limits of Pluralism Critical Understanding: (1979) helped revitalize and popularize Chicago School principles.

Booth is associated with two other movements in contemporary literary theory: reader-response criticism and narratology. The former includes a heterogeneous group of reader-oriented rather than text-oriented methodologies. The latter is usually seen as a type of structuralist or proto-structuralist literary study, since it focuses on the function and the grammar, or structure, of narrative. Linked with both is Booth's Rhetoric of Fiction (1962), which concentrates on the analysis of point of view and how writers manipulate it so that readers accept the values of the implied author of a text's narration. Booth's work has increasingly emphasized reading, ethics, and the rhetoric of persuasion-a concern already implicit in this early book.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Booth, now in his seventies, took up the cello at 31. In this treatise on doing something solely for the love of it that also considers aging, interactions among people, and the hard work it takes to be a respectable amateur cellist, he muses on the joy he gets from playing chamber music with others and expresses gratitude for life's mysterious, unearned gifts. Amateur is derived from the Latin verb for love; Booth's amateuring means the pursuit of something for the pure love of it. Amateuring for Booth is not something done frivolously; it demands hard work every day to approach the perfection expected by his peers. Booth relates the good times and the bad experiences he has had playing music with other amateurs around the world. Lamentably, with the advent of recordings of music performed by professionals, people are no longer pursuing amateur music making. Still, Booth has hopes that it will revive as a means for many to relax from the hectic working world. (Reviewed March 15, 1999)0226065855Alan Hirsch

Publisher's Weekly Review

This entertaining meditation on the rewards of being an amateur cellist is both a memoir and a philosophical inquiry into the meaning of time and pleasure. The author, a literary scholar and professor emeritus of English at the University of Chicago, began learning to play the cello when he was 31, fully realizing that he would never become a professional. Now in his 70s, Booth details the decades he has spent playing for the sheer love of it and the rewards his commitment has brought him. Although he learned both the clarinet and piano as a child in a musical family, Booth later opted for the cello, in part because he could then accompany his wife, a violinist and viola player, in chamber music concerts with friends. He describes the difficulties, delights and just plain fun he has had in his struggle to play better, with both good and bad teachers as well as patient and impatient amateur chamber musicians. He also recounts how playing became a form of spiritual healing after the death of his son. Booth convincingly argues that amateur activities such as music, painting or scholarly pursuits undertaken for pleasure enrich a driven society too concerned with monetary success. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Four decades ago, at age 31, Booth (English, emeritus, Univ. of Chicago) discovered a new love: playing the cello. He became absorbed in the mastery of his instrument and experienced the intoxication known only to the dedicated amateur. While the professional develops his or her craft in part for financial gain, Booth reveals what it is to play solely for joy and personal accomplishment. The cellist's art is full of struggle and frustration, but its rewards are as great as the demands it makes upon Booth and other devotees like him. In this humorous and heartfelt account, he effectively contrasts the perspective of amateur and professional. A well-written book that will appeal to a wide readership; recommended for any library with a music collection.ÄYan Toma, Queens Borough P.L., Flushing, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

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?