Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric

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How does one turn unassuming words into phrases that are beautiful, effective, and memorable? Using examples from Churchill, Lincoln, Dickens, Melville, and many others, this book examines the most valuable rhetorical devices with amazing clarity.

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Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric

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How does one turn unassuming words into phrases that are beautiful, effective, and memorable? Using examples from Churchill, Lincoln, Dickens, Melville, and many others, this book examines the most valuable rhetorical devices with amazing clarity.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes and Noble Review.com
A catalogue of rhetorical devices—with abundant examples of each figure of speech culled from oratory and literature—Ward Farnsworth's sparkling compendium is a handbook of eloquence that will delight readers of a certain ilk (you know who you are). Anaphora, epistrophe, isocolon, chiasmus, asyndeton, praeteritio, litotes, and other ghosts of linguistic glory are explained and resurrected in the words of writers like Edmund Burke and Winston Churchill, Herman Melville and Charles Dickens, Chesterton and Conan Doyle. Priceless.
The Wall Street Journal
The most immediate pleasure of this book is that it heightens one's appreciation of the craft of great writers and speakers. Mr. Farnsworth includes numerous examples from Shakespeare and Dickens, Thoreau and Emerson, Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln. He also seems keen to rehabilitate writers and speakers whose rhetorical artistry is undervalued; besides his liking for Chesterton, he shows deep admiration for the Irish statesman Henry Grattan (1746-1820), whose studied repetition of a word ("No lawyer can say so; because no lawyer could say so without forfeiting his character as a lawyer") is an instance, we are told, of conduplicatio. But more than anything Mr. Farnsworth wants to restore the reputation of rhetorical artistry per se, and the result is a handsome work of reference--(Henry Hutchings)
Library Journal
This book, despite its broad title, treats only one part of rhetoric: the word patterns that skilled speakers and writers use in order to heighten the impact of their messages. Farnsworth (law & assoc. dean for academic affairs, Boston Univ. Sch. of Law) defines and exemplifies 18 patterns, such as chiasmus (structural reversal, as in JFK's "Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country") and anaphora (initial repetition, as in Churchill's "we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight...in the air"). Farnsworth's guide is similar to Richard A. Lanham's A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms but covers fewer topics, in more depth and with more examples. The inclusion of the author's name in the title, as though the work has gained the status of a classic simply by being published, is part of a regrettable trend in language guidebooks.Verdict An engaging and accessible guide, valuable to all who wish to improve their rhetorical skills or better appreciate the abilities of others.—Lisa Richmond, Wheaton Coll. Lib., IL
Michael Dirda
…Ward Farnsworth…demonstrates in his witty handbook…the various rhetorical techniques [that] are…the organizing principles behind vivid writing and speech…More important, this handbook also provides a slew of examples to reveal how great writers have added force and color to their sentences by employing these tropes or figures…Admittedly, the book is not what you'd call an easy read…but it generously repays the attention you give it.
—The Washington Post
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781567923858
  • Publisher: Godine, David R. Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/27/2011
  • Pages: 253
  • Sales rank: 526,428
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Ward Farnsworth is Professor of Law and Nancy Barton Scholar at Boston University. He is the author of The Legal Analyst: A Toolkit for Thinking about the Law (2007), as well as many scholarly articles on various legal subjects and a treatise on chess available online. More information about Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric and his other projects can be found at www.wardfarnsworth.com.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 24, 2011

    A must for writers

    This book takes rhetorical devices from classical times and brings them to life, with examples that are so good you want to read them out loud. It taught me a great deal about why Lincoln sounds like Lincoln, why Dickens sounds like Dickens, and more other things about rhetoric than I can keep straight. Farnsworth is an ideal guide, tasteful and very helpful, with an incredible range of knowledge at his fingertips. A beautiful book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 21, 2011

    Something special

    Anyone who loves language will love this book. Beautifully written, printed, and illustrated (not with pictures, but with examples).

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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