Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You: Chiasmus and the World of Quotations...

Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You: Chiasmus and the World of Quotations...


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Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You: Chiasmus and the World of Quotations... by Mardy Grothe

Engaging new territory for word lovers, speech makers, and party show-offs--this quotable collection enshrines a classic linguistic trick.

Pardon me--do you know what chiasmus means? Here's a hint: Mae West used chiasmus in her signature line "It's not the men in my life; it's the life in my men." So did John F. Kennedy: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

Language maven Dr. Mardy Grothe discovered that many of the world's great wags and eloquent orators have been virtual masters of chiasmus--Churchill, Wilde, Shaw, Ben Franklin, Samuel Johnson, and Shakespeare, to name just a handful. In this unprecedented and quotable collection, he assembles the best examples of chiasmus ever written or spoken. Not since the oxymoron, the palindrome, or An Exaltation of Larks has there been a whole new category of wordplay so likely to fire the public imagination. In the tradition of Woe Is I and The Transitive Vampire, Never Let a Fool Kiss You...will make chiasmus a household word and help you wax profound in the company of the greatest wits of all time.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780670878277
Publisher: Viking Adult
Publication date: 07/01/1999
Pages: 112
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 9.50(h) x 0.62(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Chiastic Wordplay

Chiasmus has enjoyed a special place in the hearts of those who have a fascination with words at play. It seems fitting that language maven William Safire should compose a chiastic motto to guide his column-writing efforts:

"Better a jerk that knees
than a knee that jerks."

This is chiastic wordplay at its best. Safire couldn't have crafted a better way of saying he'd rather be seen as a dirty fighter than as an ideological automaton.

    Arguably the best toast ever created, combining punning with chiasmus, goes all the way back to Edwardian England in the 1890s:

"Here's champagne for our real friends,
and real pain for our sham friends."

Nobody appreciated the playful use of language more than famed lexicographer Dr. Samuel Johnson. One of his peers, John Gay, had shopped his play The Beggar's Opera around to London theaters, only to have it rejected again and again. Finally he took it to producer John Rich, who saw the play's potential and helped make it a huge success. The legendary wordsmith's comment was soon being repeated all over London:

"It made Rich gay
and Gay rich."

More chiastic wordplay follows.

* * *

"The two greatest highway menaces
are drivers under twenty-five
going over sixty-five
and drivers over sixty-five
going under twenty-five."

"Beauty sounds as ugly
as ugliness sounds beautiful."
—Max Beerbohm

"A scout troop consists of twelve little kids dressed like schmucks
following a big schmuck dressed like a kid."
—Jack Benny

"Architect, n. One who drafts a plan of your house,
and plans a draft of your money."
—Ambrose Bierce

"The gambling known as business
looks with austere disfavor upon
the business known as gambling."
—Ambrose Bierce

"You have to know how
to accept rejection
and reject acceptance."
—Ray Bradbury, advice to writers

"In the Halls of Justice
the only justice is in the halls."
—Lenny Bruce

"They have to be extra careful with those two-way words.
I mean, they can prick their finger,
but they can't finger their prick."
—George Carlin, on the effect of censors on performers

"Have you noticed that your shit is stuff
and their stuff is shit?" —George Carlin

"Errol Flynn died on a 70-foot boat with a 17-year-old girl.
Walter has always wanted to go that way,
but he's going to settle for a 17-footer with a 70-year-old."
—Betsy Maxwell Cronkite, on husband, Walter

"As a young man I used to have
four supple members and a stiff one.
Now I have four stiff and one supple."
—Henri-Eugène duc d'Aumale

"Whether a man's lust for big-breasted women
is a hunger for mountains
or his hunger for mountains is
a lust for big-breasted women is a moot question."
—Brendan Francis

"I'd Rather Have a Bottle in Front of Me
(Than a Frontal Lobotomy)."
—Randy Hanzlick, song title

"Man can be destroyed but not defeated.
Man can be defeated but not destroyed."
—Ernest Hemingway

"Punctuation is made for man,
not man for punctuation."
—Philip Howard

"I don't suffer fools,
and I like to see fools suffer."
—Florence King

"Recreational wordplayers wonder why
we drive on a parkway
and park on a driveway."
—Richard Lederer

"In what other language do people
play at a recital
and recite at a play?"
—Richard Lederer, on "Crazy English"

"In some parts of Ireland,
the sleep which knows no waking
is always followed by
a wake which knows no sleeping."
—Mary Wilson Little

"The telephone is
the greatest nuisance
among conveniences,
the greatest convenience
among nuisances."
—Robert Lynd

"In the blue grass region,
A paradox was born:
The corn was full of kernels
And the colonels full of corn."
—John Marshall, describing Kentucky

"I despise the pleasure
of pleasing people that I despise."
—Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

"The story of the whale swallowing Jonah ...
borders greatly on the marvelous;
but it would have approached nearer to the idea of miracle
if Jonah had swallowed the whale."
—Thomas Paine

"There are painters
who transform the sun into a yellow spot,
but there are others who, thanks to their art and intelligence,
transform a yellow spot into the sun."
—Pablo Picasso

"Better a witty fool
than a foolish wit."
—William Shakespeare
in Twelfth Night

"Don't sweat the petty things
and don't pet the sweaty things."
—Jacquelyn Small

"If you talk to God, you are praying;
if God talks to you, you have schizophrenia."
—Thomas Szasz

"We usually call our blunders mistakes,
and our friends style our mistakes blunders."
—Henry Wheatley

"A monk asks a superior if it is permissible
to smoke while praying.
The superior says certainly not.
Next day, the monk asks the superior if it is permissible
to pray while smoking.
That, says the superior, is not merely permissible, it is admirable."
—George F. Will

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION "Pardon Me, Do You Know What Chiasmus Means?"ix
CHAPTER 1 Chiastic Wordplay1
CHAPTER 2 Chiastic Maxims to Guide Your Life9
CHAPTER 3 Chiastic Comparisons16
CHAPTER 4 The Battle of the Sexes, Chiasmus Style23
CHAPTER 5 Chiastic Compliments and Insults29
CHAPTER 6 Chiasmus on Stage and Screen37
CHAPTER 7 Political Chiasmus45
CHAPTER 8 Chiasmus in the World of Sports54
CHAPTER 9 Chiasmus in Advertising60
CHAPTER 10 Chiasmus for CEOs66
CHAPTER 11 Chiasmus for Book Lovers74
CHAPTER 12 Chiasmus for Lovers82
CHAPTER 13 Chiasmus in Marriage and Family Life91
CHAPTER 14 Chiastic Insights from Great Philosophers98
CHAPTER 15 Chiastic Repartee104
CHAPTER 16 Implied Chiasmus113

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