Forsyth is funny. And uniquely educational. If 'The Etymologicon' wasn't evidence enough, this must do the trick. It's nice to have such 'high-brow' content conveyed in an accessible and scholarly manner. Excellent.
Recommended by a good source but seemed a bit old fashioned to start with. But as I get closer to the end I am appreciating the disciplined structure of Rhetoric. I am telling everyone about it. Glad to have it, when I finish I will start reading it again. Dennis Batterham
I love explorations into the English language, and this is one of the best. Forsyth deconstructs various forms of rhetoric using examples from Shakespeare to modern pop songs. If you were to read the chapter headings without dipping into the book you'd think this was one long snore-fest, but Forsyth is informative and funny with it. Here is an example from "Metonymy and Synecdoche": 'I wandered lonely as a cloud ... Clouds are not lonely. Especially in the Lake District where Wordsworth wrote that line. In the Lake District clouds are remarkably social creatures that bring their friends and relatives and stay for weeks.' Or, from the chapter on Hyperbaton: 'adjectives in English absolutely have to be in this order: opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose Noun. So you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that word order in the slightest you'll sound like a maniac.' Who knew?
I am holed up in bed, sick with a bloody head cold, and am enjoying a new book; The Elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth.
“English teaching at school is, unfortunately, obsessed with what a poet thought, as though that were of any interest to anyone. Rather than being taught about how a poem is phrased, schoolchildren are asked to write essays on what William Blake thought about the Tiger; despite the fact that William Blake was a nutjob whose opinions, in a civilised society, would be of no interest to anybody apart from his parole officer. A poet is not somebody who has great thoughts. That is the menial duty of the philosopher. A poet is somebody who expresses his thoughts, however commonplace they may be, exquisitely. That is the one and only difference between the poet and everybody else.”