Makes accessible to modern readers the 17th-century rhetorics of Thomas Hobbes (15881677) and Bernard Lamy (16401715)
Hobbes’ A Briefe of the Art of Rhetorique, the first English translation of Aristotle’s rhetoric, reflects Hobbes’ sense of rhetoric as a central instrument of self-defense in an increasingly fractious Commonwealth. In its approach to rhetoric, which Hobbes defines as “that Faculty by which wee understand what will serve our turne, concerning any subject, to winne beliefe in the hearer,” the Briefe looks forward to Hobbes’ great political works De Cive and Leviathan.
Published anonymously in France as De l’art de parler, Lamy’s rhetoric was translated immediately into English as The Art of Speaking. Lamy’s long association with the Port Royalists made his works especially attractive to English readers because Port Royalists were engaged in a vicious quarrel with the Jesuits during the last half of the 17th century.
About the Author
John T. Harwood is Professor of English at The Pennsylvania State University.