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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 listeners say about Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric

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  • Overall
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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.

11 people found this helpful

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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.

10 people found this helpful

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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.

4 people found this helpful

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Over the top, and information is top notch!

Narrated by Jimm Meskimen, who you may know from youtube, clearly hitting it hard and using his impression skills to give life to long deceased speakers. May turn some people off, I love it.

1 person found this helpful

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Outstanding book; heroic narration!

This book fully merits five stars on the print content, but that presents a problem because the narrator deserves six or eight. One might suspect that a book like this would not work well on audio, and with a less talented narrator that would be true. But the narrator in this performance makes the quotations an absolute delight to hear.

1 person found this 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.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mr. Ronald Wild
  • 05-26-21

A marvelous book.

Oh, how our language has diminished. Learn to speak like a great orator, this teaches the skills they used then, and it still works today.

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  • Vicki
  • 11-25-20

needs a classical English accent not americanised

the introduction is being read with an americanised accent, it doesnt work I hope it can be re recorded in due time..