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Rhetoric, one of the oldest academic disciplines, has two faces: first, the art of using language to influence or persuade; second, the body of established patterns of language, spoken or written, that makes words and phrases memorable, emphatic, and effective. There are very few recent books that tackle the subject, and in this new effort, written with the scholar and ora Rhetoric, one of the oldest academic disciplines, has two faces: first, the art of using language to influence or persuade; second, the body of established patterns of language, spoken or written, that makes words and phrases memorable, emphatic, and effective. There are very few recent books that tackle the subject, and in this new effort, written with the scholar and orator in mind, Farnsworth collects and discusses the great masters of English prose Lincoln and Churchill, Dickens and Melville, Burke and Paine and, using their own words, proceeds to organize, illustrate, and analyze the most frequently used rhetorical devices with clarity and detail. The way we use our language to convince and cajole is based on timeless principles on repetition and variety, suspense and relief, expectation and satisfaction that have been employed by writers and speakers since the Golden Age of Greece. They can be applied with effect to the construction of simple sentences and paragraphs, or entire compositions. Here, distilled from the best examples in our language, we see those principles in actual use: for the general reader it is an indispensable guide, a highly useful reference, and a rewarding (and even entertaining) source of instruction.


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Rhetoric, one of the oldest academic disciplines, has two faces: first, the art of using language to influence or persuade; second, the body of established patterns of language, spoken or written, that makes words and phrases memorable, emphatic, and effective. There are very few recent books that tackle the subject, and in this new effort, written with the scholar and ora Rhetoric, one of the oldest academic disciplines, has two faces: first, the art of using language to influence or persuade; second, the body of established patterns of language, spoken or written, that makes words and phrases memorable, emphatic, and effective. There are very few recent books that tackle the subject, and in this new effort, written with the scholar and orator in mind, Farnsworth collects and discusses the great masters of English prose Lincoln and Churchill, Dickens and Melville, Burke and Paine and, using their own words, proceeds to organize, illustrate, and analyze the most frequently used rhetorical devices with clarity and detail. The way we use our language to convince and cajole is based on timeless principles on repetition and variety, suspense and relief, expectation and satisfaction that have been employed by writers and speakers since the Golden Age of Greece. They can be applied with effect to the construction of simple sentences and paragraphs, or entire compositions. Here, distilled from the best examples in our language, we see those principles in actual use: for the general reader it is an indispensable guide, a highly useful reference, and a rewarding (and even entertaining) source of instruction.

30 review for Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric

  1. 5 out of 5

    William2

    I have been looking for something like this for many years. A text which clearly explains how rhetorical figures are used in English and provides compelling examples for each. Here's a list of just Part III: DRAMATIC DEVICES: 13. Saying things by not saying them: Praeteritio, p. 166 14. Breaking off in midstream: Aposiopesis, p. 182 15. Correcting oneself: Metanoia, p. 194 16. Rhethorical uses of the negative: Litotes, p. 204 17. Rhetorical questions: Erotema, p. 212 18. Asking questions and answering I have been looking for something like this for many years. A text which clearly explains how rhetorical figures are used in English and provides compelling examples for each. Here's a list of just Part III: DRAMATIC DEVICES: 13. Saying things by not saying them: Praeteritio, p. 166 14. Breaking off in midstream: Aposiopesis, p. 182 15. Correcting oneself: Metanoia, p. 194 16. Rhethorical uses of the negative: Litotes, p. 204 17. Rhetorical questions: Erotema, p. 212 18. Asking questions and answering them: Hypophora Anticipating objections and meeting them: Prolepsis, p. 226 There are marvelous examples from Lincoln, Twain, Dickens, Pitt, de Quincy, Melville, Hawthorne, Churchill, Shakespeare, Burke, Chesterton, Fielding, Richardson, Adams, Scott, Johnson, Gladstone, Shelley, Shaw, Byron, Stevenson, Trollope, and the Scriptures. Moreover, the book doesn't have to be read in a linear fashion, one can flip through it as one pleases. I'm grateful to Mr. Farnsworth for his efforts. I only wish the book were longer.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mike Cavosie

    Now I have a pressing need to orate.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Fritz

    I read a review of this book in the Wall Street Journal. I couldn't sample it online, and so bought it on faith, with a hope that it would be educational and enjoyable. I was not disappointed. I've read several books on rhetoric, and I was familiar with some of the the devices described in this book. Where it excels is in having many examples of rhetoric in action. The author's commentary is concise and quite helpful. I actually fell in love with this book from reading the introduction - a fine pi I read a review of this book in the Wall Street Journal. I couldn't sample it online, and so bought it on faith, with a hope that it would be educational and enjoyable. I was not disappointed. I've read several books on rhetoric, and I was familiar with some of the the devices described in this book. Where it excels is in having many examples of rhetoric in action. The author's commentary is concise and quite helpful. I actually fell in love with this book from reading the introduction - a fine piece of writing on its own. I read this book with colored pencils in hand, and I'm sure I'll refer to it in the future.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ty

    This was an informative, useful and at times fun to read intermediate level reference on English Rhetoric. Every writer at some point should pick up a copy. It is not something to read in one sitting, nor is it something to read only once, as there is a lot of sometimes complex information packed into this small volume. But as something to refer to, and re-read in pieces over time, it presents with quite the value for the wordsmith. It introduced me to some writers and speakers I otherwise might This was an informative, useful and at times fun to read intermediate level reference on English Rhetoric. Every writer at some point should pick up a copy. It is not something to read in one sitting, nor is it something to read only once, as there is a lot of sometimes complex information packed into this small volume. But as something to refer to, and re-read in pieces over time, it presents with quite the value for the wordsmith. It introduced me to some writers and speakers I otherwise might not have encountered, but whom now I will at least investigate further. (If for no other reasons then to read the rest of the speeches from which the excellent examples are drawn.) That being said, I found it to at times be a bit thick, repetitive beyond what was required to make the point, and unnecessarily convoluted when presenting examples that bore little difference from the wealth of examples already provided. To the uninitiated, the author complicates the issues by explaining a concept, supplying plentiful examples, and then sub-categorizing to such a degree that what would otherwise have been a simple concept takes on the appearance of being rather complex. For example, if a recipe book were to be laid out in a similar fashion, the text would define salad, explain how to create same, proceed to elaborate on different types of salad, as well as with what other foods they may be safely paired. Not enough for some, more than is needed for others, but a logical amount of information for most. Using such a book would explain the nature of say, a Caesar salad. The reader could probably assume that certain salads would proceed to fall under this umbrella. Yet to extend this metaphor, the book at times would use long lists to distinguish a Caesar salad served in a wooden bowl, from a Caesar salad served in a glass bowl. And than one served in a plastic bowl. And finally, one served on a plate instead of a bowl, (a plate which could also be wooden, glass, or plastic.) In every case above, the salad itself is unchanged. It is merely served in different receptacles. While a valid technical difference does exist, are four more pages of such elaboration really making the concept of a Caesar salad any clearer to the reader? I would suggest they do not, and at times initial clarity becomes muddied with so much specificity. However on the whole, a treasure for language enthusiasts. I will be reading it again in pieces for years to come, and applying its lessons to my own writing and speaking. (Some of which I already recognized in the definitions given in the book. Another of its strengths being to define what is already familiar to us, subconsciously.)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Godine Publisher & Black Sparrow Press

    "Not only educational but delightful." - David Mamet "Every writer should have this book." - Erin McKean, editor of Verbatim: The Language Quarterly "The best introduction to rhetorical figures which has yet appeared. An essential reference for anyone who studies verbal style." - Richard A. Lanham, Professor Emeritus of English,UCLA "Mandatory for persons involved in public speaking, this book should prove indispensable also to writers wishing to improve their literary style." - John Simon, author of Par "Not only educational but delightful." - David Mamet "Every writer should have this book." - Erin McKean, editor of Verbatim: The Language Quarterly "The best introduction to rhetorical figures which has yet appeared. An essential reference for anyone who studies verbal style." - Richard A. Lanham, Professor Emeritus of English,UCLA "Mandatory for persons involved in public speaking, this book should prove indispensable also to writers wishing to improve their literary style." - John Simon, author of Paradigms Lost "I must refrain from shouting what a brilliant work this is (præteritio). Farnsworth has written the book as he ought to have written it – and as only he could have written it (symploce). Buy it and read it – buy it and read it (epimone)." - Bryan A. Garner, author of The Elements of Legal Style "Many things, from dictators to advertising, have made modern people suspicious of and cynical about language mobilized to move us. Fortunately, Ward Farnsworth's delightful swim in a sea of well-chosen words should help to rehabilitate the reputation of rhetoric." - George F. Will, syndicated columnist "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

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tso William

    I first start learning English by reading classics. I was taught to write in a way that should strictly adhere to the grammar rules. The strange placing of words in those classics puzzled me. Conjunction can be missing or one word can follow another without verb. Some of them also double negatives which are discouraged by all teachers and most literary critics, not least by George Orwell in his famous essay Politics and the English language . It is only now that I understand that those are not o I first start learning English by reading classics. I was taught to write in a way that should strictly adhere to the grammar rules. The strange placing of words in those classics puzzled me. Conjunction can be missing or one word can follow another without verb. Some of them also double negatives which are discouraged by all teachers and most literary critics, not least by George Orwell in his famous essay Politics and the English language . It is only now that I understand that those are not only accepted forms of writing but are rhetorical devices. The missing conjunction can be asyndeton , the absence of verb anadiplosis and double negatives litotes . We are never taught of those devices because, I suspect, the rise of the linguistic discipline displace the study of rhetoric. Only more senior students have brief glimpse of them when they engage in literary studies. Farnsworth selected examples from various sources - novels, plays, essays, speeches, legal submission, even biblical passages. This is a relatively short book with less than 300 pages, but the details are enormous. It will likely influence my style of writing which, you might have already noticed, is convoluted and unnecessarily lengthy.

  7. 5 out of 5

    David

    The value of this book is not in the descriptions of rhetorical devices, but in the examples provided from some of the masters of the language. The mix of samples from literature and speeches show the potential for each device in a range of circumstances and uses. The book is divided well into related devices, placing less emphasis on the technical names of each device and more on their use for the writer and speaker of the English language. The choice to limit using translations primarily to Bi The value of this book is not in the descriptions of rhetorical devices, but in the examples provided from some of the masters of the language. The mix of samples from literature and speeches show the potential for each device in a range of circumstances and uses. The book is divided well into related devices, placing less emphasis on the technical names of each device and more on their use for the writer and speaker of the English language. The choice to limit using translations primarily to Biblical quotations benefits the reader by giving examples composed in English. Readers looking for a complete treatment of rhetorical devices are better served looking elsewhere, but readers seeking a treatment of more popular devices through immersion cannot go wrong with this book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    I really loved this, though I skimmed it due to my brain being at capacity.

  9. 5 out of 5

    G.M. Burrow

    If this book were the highway, I read it fast enough that I caught only every fifth mile marker, but I still enjoyed the ride and I know right where to go if I want to catch the other four.

  10. 5 out of 5

    David

    I read it in snippets and learn something every time.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Salem Lorot

    When I took up public speaking class last year with the The African Centre for Public Speaking, we had recommended texts that we needed to read. I have since read “Don't Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate: The Essential Guide for Progressives” by George Lakoff and Jay Heinrichs’ “Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion”. There are others I am yet to read. This week, I have been reading (well, listening to When I took up public speaking class last year with the The African Centre for Public Speaking, we had recommended texts that we needed to read. I have since read “Don't Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate: The Essential Guide for Progressives” by George Lakoff and Jay Heinrichs’ “Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion”. There are others I am yet to read. This week, I have been reading (well, listening to the audiobook) Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric by Ward Farnsworth. I have finished it and I can share with you my thoughts about the book. So, what is Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric book all about? Don’t be put off by the title. It might sound obfuscated but the book is quite exciting. Fansworth, A Boston Law Professor, has identified 18 rhetorical devices that make for a great speech or text. What really stands out about the book is the use of multiple examples. One of the rhetorical devices is repetition (or epizeuxis or epimone). There is an example given of de Gaulle. France had just fallen to the Nazis, and de Gaulle was speaking to the people of his country by radio from London: Car la France n’est pas seule! Elle n’est pas seule! Elle n’est pas seule! (For France is not alone! She is not alone! She is not alone!) (If you hear the audio, you get the maximum effect) And there’s that famous quote in Othello: Reputation, reputation, reputation! Oh, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation, Iago, my reputation! These kinds of styles. Eighteen of them. Anaphora (the repetition at the start), anadiplosis (repeating the ending at the beginning), and so on. And Chiasmus, the famous one being John Kennedy’s ‘ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country’. You might have also noticed that in my writings, I love using the word ‘and’. It is not accidental. It is one of the devices that I use for good effect and it always gives me pleasure to recognise it in great speeches and writings. I need not list all the devices here but all I can say is that if you are fascinated by public speaking and rhetoric and feel ill-equipped, this is the book you need, next to your dictionary and thesaurus. I have finished reading this book but it is the kind of book to constantly refer to. From my journey so far, I have noticed a serious gap in our education system. We are not taught rhetoric in the various degrees we undertake ( I am not sure about English Degree, though). The communication skills that we were taught in the university, and I don’t mean to demean it, is inadequate. Now I understand why we are given the power to read when we graduate. What we are cryptically told is to never for a moment think that what we have learnt is enough. And perhaps that is the beauty of education after all: to pique our curiosity.

  12. 4 out of 5

    E

    Pretty straightforward work: Farnsworth examines the most common and effective tools of rhetoric, both written and spoken, and then provides classic examples of each. Many, many examples of each form of rhetoric, demonstrating the various ways in which they can be used. He deals with epizeuxis, epimone, anaphora (repetition at the start), epistrophe (repetition at the end), symploce (repetition at both start and end), anadiplosis (repeating the ending at the beginning), polyptoton (repeating roo Pretty straightforward work: Farnsworth examines the most common and effective tools of rhetoric, both written and spoken, and then provides classic examples of each. Many, many examples of each form of rhetoric, demonstrating the various ways in which they can be used. He deals with epizeuxis, epimone, anaphora (repetition at the start), epistrophe (repetition at the end), symploce (repetition at both start and end), anadiplosis (repeating the ending at the beginning), polyptoton (repeating roots), isocolon (parallel structure), chiasmus (reversal of structure), anastrophe (inversion), and many many more. He explains their multifaceted uses quite well, and then provides wonderfully rich examples. To give just a taste, I will list the sources quoted on just one page, chosen entirely at random: -Burke, Reflection on the Revolution in France -Dickens, Little Dorrit -Shaw, Major Barbara -Chesterton, What's Wrong with the World -Matthew 22:21 This work is probably better suited for reference, but reading it straight through will certainly attenuate your ears and eyes to classic rhetoric, and hopefully enable the reader to employ such tools himself.

  13. 5 out of 5

    max

    In the upper level high school Latin and Greek classes I teach, I spend a lot of time with figures like chiasmus, metonomy, anastrophe, asyndeton, polysyndeton, litotes and many others. Identifying them in classical authors (e.g. Ovid, Homer, Vergil and Catullus) and discussing how they enhance a particular sentence is a fundamental part of what we do in each class. Students enjoy this enormously and are thrilled when they discover that many of these rhetorical and figurative expressions are fou In the upper level high school Latin and Greek classes I teach, I spend a lot of time with figures like chiasmus, metonomy, anastrophe, asyndeton, polysyndeton, litotes and many others. Identifying them in classical authors (e.g. Ovid, Homer, Vergil and Catullus) and discussing how they enhance a particular sentence is a fundamental part of what we do in each class. Students enjoy this enormously and are thrilled when they discover that many of these rhetorical and figurative expressions are found in the best English authors. Farnsworth's book is an excellent compendium of rhetorical figures as exemplified in the prose works of English authors, such as Lincoln, Dickens, Chesterton, Shaw, Twain, Emerson, Burke, Thoreau, and last but not least, Churchill. There are no quotations from the poets, however. For a similar treatment, see: Figures of Speech which is equally good.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    Fabulous! I listened to the audiobook (and bought the softcover book AND Kindle version) and the narrators are very high quality, adjusting the voice based on the author (Churchill, Dickens, Melville, e.g.). Listening is like sitting with the best English speakers and authors for hours. Example after high quality example. I will be reading this again and again. 2019: May two daughters read this and loved it as well. We plan on making flashcards of the rhetorical techniques covered in the book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jared Tobin

    Farnsworth has done an excellent job collecting classical quotations & passages and has categorized them by the rhetorical technique(s) they use. The collection is wonderful and features Churchill, Burke, Lincoln, Thoreau, Carlyle, Melville, Shakespeare, etc. Farnsworth mostly lets these giants speak for themselves, but adds just the right amount of context, analysis, and discussion to make their purposes and technique clear. Recommended for lovers of great literature and oratory. Farnsworth has done an excellent job collecting classical quotations & passages and has categorized them by the rhetorical technique(s) they use. The collection is wonderful and features Churchill, Burke, Lincoln, Thoreau, Carlyle, Melville, Shakespeare, etc. Farnsworth mostly lets these giants speak for themselves, but adds just the right amount of context, analysis, and discussion to make their purposes and technique clear. Recommended for lovers of great literature and oratory.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Adam Gurri

    This book is a treasure. Had I been in college when I read it, it would have made an English major of me. It is simply impossible to read without coming away with an enthusiasm for the subtlety, beauty, and joy of the English language, when employed by those with a mastery of it. A highly recommended introduction to a lost art.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kim Grossett

    The samples of the literary terms in classic works by famous authors really help you memorize the terms. Murphy even read the examples to help him memorize literary terms for his English semester exam.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Megan Lindsay

    This book is so dense with terms, it's silly. But even if you never remember what chiasmus or anastrophe are, the examples of the types of rhetorical language are unforgettable. A worthy read for anyone who loves the sound of language.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dick Hamilton

    While many people might not find this to be a page turner, I really enjoyed the book. The author provided a number of examples of rhetorical figures and, as a result, I started to notice, and appreciate, them in other things I read. It made me want to read more in this area.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    Wonderful resource for my AP class!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sara Q

    Read about it here: http://www.themillions.com/2011/04/a-... Read about it here: http://www.themillions.com/2011/04/a-...

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jason Speros

    A superior bathroom book for hardcore language enthusiasts.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Joshua

    Best book on categorizing figures of speech in English prose.

  24. 4 out of 5

    David West

    Difficult as an audiobook. But I must purchase a hard copy and add this one to my shelf. A great resource and full of examples from which to learn.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Great tips for writers with useful examples from noteworthy books.

  26. 5 out of 5

    David V

    Great book covering many figures of note.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rob Shurmer

    the stuff we need returned to the classroom... and soon!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

    Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric is one book I credit in playing a pivotal role in developing my sense of rhetoric and oratory. At once accessible for the more seasoned reader, this book provides a streamlined dissection of rhetoric examples and how they can be employed to one's advantage in discussion, debate, and writing. Although Farnsworth cites more classical examples (hence the eponymous title) from secular, political, literary, and religious sources, the modern reader can still appr Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric is one book I credit in playing a pivotal role in developing my sense of rhetoric and oratory. At once accessible for the more seasoned reader, this book provides a streamlined dissection of rhetoric examples and how they can be employed to one's advantage in discussion, debate, and writing. Although Farnsworth cites more classical examples (hence the eponymous title) from secular, political, literary, and religious sources, the modern reader can still appreciate the various forms of rhetoric presented and demonstrated in this volume. Numerous ( my 4th time currently) times have I re-read this book and have gleaned more joys in learning the finer points of classical rhetoric, which sadly, is lost to the majority of our public. Even our supposedly glib-tongued politicians might stand to learn from this book regarding rhetoric's proper usage.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ryandake

    hmmm, well, it's a masterful collection of examples of how classical rhetoric gains its power. it's a very good walkthrough of how to employ these devices. it's like a cookbook: you can gain this mastery and enjoy these yummies only by doing them, by making them, by spending time with each ingredient, separately. which for this reader means, it's a little disappointing. i wanted to learn how to do it, not just appreciate it. i wanted a roadmap, not a geography. it's not really the book's fault. it hmmm, well, it's a masterful collection of examples of how classical rhetoric gains its power. it's a very good walkthrough of how to employ these devices. it's like a cookbook: you can gain this mastery and enjoy these yummies only by doing them, by making them, by spending time with each ingredient, separately. which for this reader means, it's a little disappointing. i wanted to learn how to do it, not just appreciate it. i wanted a roadmap, not a geography. it's not really the book's fault. it is what it says it is. but lacking the practice in using the rhetorical forms, it's just more literary window-dressing.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Andy Cutright

    The book surprised me. I had hoped it covered logic and rhetorical devices to mislead another during a discussion. This is a book about the structure of the written and spoken word. It's essentially a well written dictionary of common rhetorical forms such as anadiplosis. The discussion each form includes quotes from classical english sources, including speeches and books, and variations on the form. The structures themselves are interesting enough, but the examples are beautiful, taken from some The book surprised me. I had hoped it covered logic and rhetorical devices to mislead another during a discussion. This is a book about the structure of the written and spoken word. It's essentially a well written dictionary of common rhetorical forms such as anadiplosis. The discussion each form includes quotes from classical english sources, including speeches and books, and variations on the form. The structures themselves are interesting enough, but the examples are beautiful, taken from some amazing speeches and writers.

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