Permanence and Change was written and first published in the depths of the Great Depression. Attitudes Toward History followed it two years later. These were revolutionary texts in the theory of communication, and, as classics, they retain their surcharge of energy. Permanence and Change treats human communication in terms of ideal cooperation, whereas Attitudes Towards History characterizes tactics and patterns of conflict typical of actual human associations. It is in Permanence and Change that Burke establishes in path-breaking fashion that form permeates society just as it does poetry and the arts. Hence, his master idea that forms of art are not exclusively aesthetic: the cycles of a storm, the gradations of a sunrise, the stages of an epidemic, the undoing of Prince Hamlet are all instances of progressive form. This new edition of Permanence and Change reprints Hugh Dalziel Duncan's long sociological introduction and includes a substantial new afterward in which Burke reexamines his early ideas in light of subsequent developments in his own thinking and in social theory.
Kenneth Burke has been termed "simply the finest literary critic in the world, and perhaps the finest since Coleridge" (Stanley Edgar Hyman, The New Leader). Mr. Burke has published ten other works with the University of California Press: Towards a Better Life (1966); Language as Symbolic Action: Essays on Life, Literature, and Method (1966) Collected Poems, 1915-1967 (1968); The Complete White Oxen: Collected Short Fiction of Kenneth Burke (1968); A Grammar of Motives (1969); Permanence and Change: An Anatomy of Purpose (1984); The Philosophy of Literary Form (1974); A Rhetoric of Motives (1969); The Rhetoric of Religion: Studies in Logology (1970); and Attitudes Toward History, Third Edition (1984).
"Unquestionably the most brilliant and suggestive critic now writing in America."—W.H. Auden "One of the truly speculative American thinkers of his era."—Malcolm Cowley "The foremost critic of our time and perhaps the greatest critic since Cloeridge."—Stanley Edgar Hyman "What Burke has done better than anyone else is to find a way of connecting literature to life without reducing either. He's had far less attention than he deserves because he'd been so far ahead of his time. But he's one of the major minds of the twentieth century, and he's sure to be read in the future."—Wayne Booth