Performance 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 Duva Burke (May 5, 1897 – November 19, 1993) was an American literary theorist who had a powerful impact on 20th-century philosophy, aesthetics, criticism, and rhetorical theory.
Kenneth Burke, Winner, National Medal for Literature, 1981
"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