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Publisher's Summary

Masters of language can turn unassuming words into phrases that are beautiful, effective, and memorable. What are the secrets of this alchemy? Part of the answer lies in rhetorical figures: practical ways of applying great aesthetic principles—repetition and variety, suspense and relief, concealment and surprise—to a simple sentence or paragraph.

Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric recovers this knowledge for our times. It amounts to a tutorial on eloquence conducted by Churchill and Lincoln, Dickens and Melville, Burke and Paine, and more than a hundred others. The book organizes a vast range of examples from those sources into 18 chapters that illustrate and analyze the most valuable rhetorical devices with unprecedented clarity. The result is an indispensable source of pleasure and instruction for all lovers of the English language.

©2010 Ward Farnsworth (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“Not only educational but delightful.” (David Mamet)
"Every writer should have this book." (Erin McKean, editor of Verbatim: The Language Quarterly and CEO of wordnik.com)
"So, dear reader, I say it even if I say it myself - get this book! No, really, get this book! Read clever Farnsworth, and read him again, and you may become more clever yourself." (Carlin Romano, The Chronicle of Higher Education)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A little unwieldy for audio

This is a really a recording of basically a reference book. Hearding it is in many ways similar to hearing a dictionary - a lot of ideas very very quickly. I have close to 1k of audiobooks and have seat though lots of 40+ hour books however I found this book is best in about 20 min doses: this gets you examples and the idea for about 3 or 4 ideas which are best to think about for a day or two. This is slow and it's hard to keep all the ideas in your head at once but likely it best that way. The ideas do build but it easier to try out the ideas (at a status meeting or something equally dull) slowly.

Most of the examples are from American and British (including Irish) Parliament speeches. While the context isn't important to the subject as the the word order that important; as a Canadian I found the American references a little frustrating given I never actually study American history. - The author habit of say "Now we're likely all familiar" fails for me. It's not critical but it's annoying. Most of the UK references I'm familiar with from studying WWII and the corn laws.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Audio isn't the best medium for such a book

Any additional comments?

I thought a book about rhetoric would work well in an audio book format. But after listening to about a third of the book I decided that to get much out of it I'd really need to read the print version.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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1900 centry quotes

Since I drive while listening, it mostly was an opportunity to hear what the author thought were remember able quotes from the 19th Century. It does categorize them all, but one would need to be listening in a situation where they could make notes for that to be practical.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Will read again and again

Fabulous! The narrators are high quality and 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.

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Ties up tongue. Ties down mind.

IN 2016, THIS WAS MY REVIEW:
Five (5) stars (supernovae) for "Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric." Never mind the technical analyses. Go straight to the examples. They will give you more than your money's worth, as you get the sense, and hear the sound, of English being expressed eloquently, effectively, emotionally -- by masters of the language. All of the speakers and writers quoted by Farnsworth are good, better than good, great. And some are superb. Amid them all, however, one speaker does stand up and stand out: namely, Richard Lalor Sheil, whose resounding oratory was directed against the Anglican Protestants' distinctly religious oppression of the Irish Catholics. Mr. Sheil rang the bell of religious liberty -- an ocean way -- and a couple centuries ago. Yet still he rings! He rings right true. He rings right here. He rings right now. And I swear I hear -- in mine own two ears -- Mr. Richard Lalor Sheil ringing the bell of religious liberty. Really? How can that be? I dunno. I do know, however, that Mr. Sheil spoke out against an evil that is not entirely a thing of the past, a piece of history, come and gone. Yes, of course, I acknowledge that Mr. Sheil was a man of his time and place. He spoke about things as they were back then. And times have changed. But still! The evil at which Mr. Sheil so eloquently spat his words so long ago – to wit, the distinctly religious oppression of Irish Catholics – persists. The Irish Catholic religion is my deceased parents' religion. So, yeah, when, as if by some miracle, across the ocean, and across the centuries, I recently heard the bell of religious liberty ringing in the oratory of Richard Lalor Sheil . . . well . . . what can I say? I was stunned. I was stupefied. I was speechless. And I was spellbound. My ears perked up. My attention was riveted. I did not just hear. I listened. And I learned.

IN 2019, THIS IS MY REVIEW:
The oratory of Richard Lalor Sheil spoke to me, once upon a time, when I was out of my mind.
That was then. Now is now. And I am not the same. Better, actually.
I fancy myself a deep thinker who prefers to listen to his own thoughts.
I sleep, I dream, I wake, I think, I write, I read, I hear, and I listen.
I liked this book when I listened to it, some time back.
And now? Now I am beyond it. It is beneath me, behind me, beyond my ken, and forgotten.
Good riddance to bad rubbish. I like it not. It weighs me down. Who needs it? Not I.
I am in flight on the wings of my own mind.
Entanglement in the tricks and technicalities of slick-and-fancy talking? No thank you.
I'll waste no more time on that and them. It and they do not interest me. I interest me.
Not one of those loud voices, out there, knows me as I know me, inside out, in the quiet of my own mind.
My life's work is to think and write as only I can. Only I.
I am alone with my mind because I want to be alone with my mind.
I am never out there, in space, among the crowd.
I am always in here, in time, in my mind, the only thing I know.
I am "on location" in the finally-found silence of my study.
My memories are my material. My imagination is my machine.
Thoughts come to mind, my mind, no other. And I listen.
Words come to mind, my mind, no other. And I write.
I need to communicate. I want to be understood.
I am not cold and calculating. I am warm and full of feeling.
I am not here to enjoy life. I am here to make something of my life.
I write presently to be read posthumously.
That is my life's work.


0 of 2 people found this review helpful