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Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  149 ratings  ·  28 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 15th 2009 by David R Godine
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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:

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 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
David R. Godine
"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
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 ...more
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
Gwen 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.
I really loved this, though I skimmed it due to my brain being at capacity.
I read it in snippets and learn something every time.
Mike Cavosie
Now I have a pressing need to orate.
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
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 ...more
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
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
Aaron Crofut
One of the reviews in the bookcover says this book belongs with the dictionary and thesaurus for any writer. I agree completely; try reading either of those books the whole way through. And yet, it is useful if you take it up every here and there to learn a new trick or two.

I haven't finished this book, but I'm not going to try to read it cover to cover anymore. It certainly has potential as a reference, though. Too much Charles Dickens for my liking.
Bringing a modern treatment to a now largely ignored subject, Farnsworth covers 18 traditional rhetorical figures. Examples range from Shakespeare and the King James Bible to around 1950, with a concentration on the 19th and late 18th centuries (the “classical” period referred to in the title). Thus we are robbed of excerpts from such classics of modern rhetoric as Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire.
Dan Yingst
Made me very much wish I had been taught rhetoric at an earlier age.

If I were wittier, I would deploy one of the outlined figures here.
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.
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.
Louis Bouchard
This is a survey of various rhetorical conventions.
It's about the art of making your speech or writing memorable, persuasive, elegant.
The author includes a lot of good examples, and presents the topic reasonably well.
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.
One of the most fascinating books I've ever read. A must-read for any writer, or anyone interested in language. I can't recommend it more highly.
Sara Q
Oct 02, 2011 Sara Q marked it as to-read
Recommended to Sara Q by: The Millions
Gordon Hultberg
excellent for rhetoric and style teachers - AP Eng, non fiction, college
Best book on categorizing figures of speech in English prose.
Jan 21, 2014 John rated it 5 of 5 stars
Hugely educational and hugely entertaining - a great combination!
Jason Speros
A superior bathroom book for hardcore language enthusiasts.
Wonderful resource for my AP class!
Ak Hauck
Delicious, fun, indispensable.
Fantods, The
Fantods, The marked it as to-read
Nov 16, 2015
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Now... that's a FARNSWORTH! 2 7 Apr 06, 2012 05:33PM  
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