Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric

Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric

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by Ward Farnsworth
     
 

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Masters of language can turn unassuming words into phrases that are convincing, effective, and memorably beautiful. Lincoln and Churchill had this power: having heard their words once, the reader or listener can scarcely imagine the world without them. What are the secrets of this alchemy? The answer lies in rhetoric in the honorable sense of the word – not

Overview

Masters of language can turn unassuming words into phrases that are convincing, effective, and memorably beautiful. Lincoln and Churchill had this power: having heard their words once, the reader or listener can scarcely imagine the world without them. What are the secrets of this alchemy? The answer lies in rhetoric in the honorable sense of the word – not the dronings of bad politicians, but the art of using language to persuade, influence, or otherwise affect an audience. Rhetoric in this sense is among the most ancient academic disciplines, and we all use it every day whether expertly or not. This book is a lively set of lessons on the subject. It is about rhetorical figures: practical ways of applying old and powerful principles – repetition and variety, suspense and relief, concealment and surprise, the creation of expectations and then the satisfaction or frustration of them– to the composition of a simple sentence or a complete paragraph. Though first examined in classical Greece and Rome, these techniques also were studied closely by earlier generations of the best English writers and orators and were often employed by them to exquisite effect. Classical English Rhetoric recovers this knowledge for our times. It organizes, illustrates, and analyzes the most valuable rhetorical devices with impeccable clarity and in unprecedented detail. The book amounts to a tutorial on eloquence conducted by virtuoso faculty: not just Lincoln and Churchill, but Dickens and Melville, Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine, and more than a hundred others. The result is a new addition to the list of indispensable books for the writer or speaker – a highly useful reference tool, and a rewarding source of instruction and pleasure for all lovers of the English language.

Editorial Reviews

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
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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781567924671
Publisher:
Godine, David R. Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
12/10/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
167
Sales rank:
502,479
File size:
2 MB

What People are saying about this

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 Hitchings)
Erin McKean
"Every writer should have this book." --(Erin McKean, editor of Verbatim: The Language Quarterly and CEO of wordnik.com)
Bryan A. Garner
"I must refrain from shouting what a brilliant work this is (paeteritio). Farnsworth has written the book as he ought to have written it – and as only he could have written it (symploce). It is copious and erudite and well-documented (polysyndeton). Buy it and read it – buy it and read it (epimone)." --(Bryan A. Garner, author of The Elements of Legal Style)
Library Journal
An engaging and accessible guide, valuable to all who wish to improve their rhetorical skills or better appreciate the abilities of others.
Carlin Romano
So, dear reader, I say it even if I say it myself—get this book! No, really, get this book! Read clever Farnsworth, and read him again, and you may become more clever yourself. —Carlin Romano, The Chronicle of Higher Education
Victor Davis Hanson
"Ward Farnsworth's invaluable review of classical English rhetoric is not only a vital tool for aiding clear expression, but a timely reminder that, despite the confusion of the present technological age, human nature, and our ability to communicate in clear and often beautiful ways, are unchanging." --(Victor Davis Hanson, co-author of Who Killed Homer?: The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom)

Meet the Author

Ward Farnsworth is Professor of Law 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.

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Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Thibodeau More than 1 year ago
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.
CASimmons More than 1 year ago
Anyone who loves language will love this book. Beautifully written, printed, and illustrated (not with pictures, but with examples).