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review of rhetoric book in today's WSJ

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I just read this book review in this morning's Wall Street Journal about a new book called "Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric." The title of the review is "The Syntax of Style: A guide to the literary tropes and rhetorical forms that once made English prose so stylish and compelling." Of course that got my attention!


Here's an excerpt from the review:


In "Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric," Ward Farnsworth sets out to remedy this. A professor at the Boston University School of Law, Mr. Farnsworth has previously published "The Legal Analyst," which he described as "a collection of tools for thinking about legal questions," and a guide to chess tactics. This book manifests his familiar pragmatism and distaste for rarefied theory; billed as "a lively set of lessons," it is in fact more akin to a well- curated exhibition of rhetorical accessories.


"Everyone speaks and writes in patterns," Mr. Farnsworth states. We have absorbed models of expression, which we reproduce "without thinking much about it." Yet we can study the patterns and learn to make our utterances more effective. To this end he maps the rhetorical figures that are, as he puts it, "practical ways of working with large aesthetic principles." Selecting passages from favorite authors and orators, and providing judicious remarks about them, he offers "help to those who wish to be on better terms with such techniques."


In its popular use, the adjective "rhetorical" has become a slur, conveying images of bombast and bloatedness. We are apt to associate it with the prolix statements of policy makers and the aureate pomposity of evangelists. Mr. Farnsworth wants to reclaim the word and the principles it truly betokens.


He is the inheritor of a substantial tradition. The ancient literature on rhetoric includes works by Aristotle, Cicero and Quintilian. The subject was treated extensively by Renaissance scholars such as Erasmus and Juan Luis Vives, George Puttenham and Thomas Wilson. Its modern apostles, on the whole less eminent, are numerous. Mr. Farnsworth, however, is unusual in focusing on techniques rather than articulating a general plea for expressive poise.


Just thought it might be of interest to people on this board. :001_smile:


Hmmm ... I was planning to order a copy, but no one seems to have it. :confused: It's listed at Amazon as being published Nov. 1, 2010, but they're not selling it except from third-party sellers ... I'm confused ...



Edited by Laura in CA
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For anyone who may be interested in buying this book, I think I've figured it out. In the hour since I posted above, *all* the "new" copies at Amazon from third-party sellers, priced from $25 to over $50, were bought ... leaving overpriced $55 used copies. (That's what happens when an enthusiastic review appears in a widely read newspaper!) So I went to the publisher's site and found it available there. I guess they're not selling through Amazon. At least I understand it now! :001_smile:



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