The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase by Mark Forsyth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Have you always wanted to write like Shakespeare? Or is reaching literary immortality your thing? If you have nothing of any note to say, but still want to have maximum effect in your prose then you need to learn the finer arts of rhetoric. In this expose of the one liner, Mark Forsythe details the way to write that will give you much more style than you thought possible. Its origins are Greek, who formulated the concepts; these were built on by the Romans, before the baton was handed to the English when they finally got around to their Renaissance. Beginning with the always alluring alliteration, he moves through merism, hyperbaton and diacope before asking some rhetorical questions and considers periodic sentences. It would not be complete without the fourteenth rule, nor elements of paradox or hyperbole…
I have read and loved the The Etymologicon and The Horologicon before so was really looking forward to this, and mostly it didn’t disappoint. I liked the way he expanded the 39 elements of rhetoric, moving neatly onto the next from the previous chapter. And it is very readable too, he has a knack of explaining things with the barest hint of wit and using examples that bring a smile to your face. Well worth reading, even if you haven’t got a degree in English!
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