In this Book

My Many Selves
summary

In his autobiography, My Many Selves, Wayne C. Booth is less concerned with his professional achievements---though the book by no means ignores his distinguished career---than with the personal vision that emerges from a long life lived thoughtfully. For Booth, even the autobiographical process becomes part of a quest to harmonize the diverse, often conflicting aspects of who he was. To see himself clearly and whole, he broke the self down, personified the fragments, uncovered their roots in his experience and background, and engaged those selves and experiences in dialogue. Basic to his story and to its lifelong concern with ethics and rhetoric was his Mormon youth in rural Utah. In adulthood he struggled with that background, abandoning most Mormon doctrines, but he retained the identity, ethical questions, and concern with communication that this upbringing gave him.

The uncommon wisdom and careful attention that empower Wayne Booth's many other books cause My Many Selves to transcend its genre, as the best memoirs always do. The book becomes a window through which we who read it will see our own conflicts, our own ongoing struggle to live honestly and ethically in the world.

Wayne Booth died in October 2005, soon after completing work on this autobiography.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Frontmatter
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Preface
  2. pp. ix-xiv
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  1. Part One. My Toughest “Self-Splits” and What Produced Them
  2. p. 1
  1. Chapter One. A Devout Mormon Is Challenged by Rival Selves
  2. pp. 3-32
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  1. Chapter Two. A Pious Moralist Confronts a Cheater
  2. pp. 33-48
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  1. Chapter Three. The Cheerful Poser Comforts a Griever: or, A Would-be Tough Guy Meets Grief and Conceals the Tears
  2. pp. 49-76
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  1. Chapter Four. My Many Selves Confront the Man Who Believes in LOVE
  2. pp. 77-94
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  1. Chapter Five. Ambition vs. Teaching for the Love of It
  2. pp. 95-116
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  1. Chapter Six. The Hypocritical Mormon Missionary Becomes a Skillful Masker, and Discovers “Hypocrisy-Upward”
  2. pp. 117-134
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  1. Chapter Seven. The Puritan Preaches at the Luster While the Hypocrite Covers the Show
  2. pp. 135-152
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  1. Chapter Eight. The Lover Becomes a Trapped Army Private
  2. pp. 153-166
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  1. Chapter Nine. An Egalitarian Quarrels Scornfully with a Hypocritical Bourgeois
  2. pp. 167-180
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  1. Chapter Ten. A College Dean Struggles to Escape
  2. pp. 181-195
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  1. Part Two. The Splits Multiply—in Somewhat Less Torturous Form
  2. p. 197
  1. Chapter Eleven. The Quarrel between the Cheater and the Moralist Produces Gullible-Booth
  2. pp. 199-208
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  1. Chapter Twelve. A Wandering Generalist Longs to Be a True Scholar
  2. pp. 209-220
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  1. Chapter Thirteen. A Would-be Novelist Mourns behind the Would-be Lover and Would-be Scholar
  2. pp. 221-234
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  1. Chapter Fourteen. The Committed Father and Husband, as Lover, Shouts “For Shame!” at All the Other Selves
  2. pp. 235-250
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  1. Chapter Fifteen. The Man of Peace Tries to Tame the Slugger
  2. pp. 251-262
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  1. Interlude. A Potpourri of Chapters I Refuse to Write (Let Alone Include)
  2. pp. 263-268
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  1. Part Three. Aging, Religion, and—Surprise!—the Quest for a Plausible Harmony
  2. p. 269
  1. Chapter Sixteen. The Old Fart Debates with a Bunch of Young Booths, While Posing as Younger Than 84
  2. pp. 271-287
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  1. Chapter Seventeen. Harmony at Last?
  2. pp. 289-309
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 310-321
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