“God help us if blog writers get their hands on this book. It’s a lot more fun than it may appear. Farnsworth identifies types of rhetorical strategies and illustrates each one with a wealth of quotations which make the book wonderfully readable. Not dry as dust but lively and inspiring.”
Above is the reason a broke, unemployed part-time blogger spent 18$ (plus taxes, plus customs, plus delivery).
Roger Ebert has been a big influence on me for a long time. His word means a lot to me. His reviews made me watch countless movies I wouldn’t have watched otherwise, his journal made me rethink some of my ideas on subjects like “are videogames art”, “how the media should cover mass-murders”, and improve my knowledge and even give me arguments to support my biased opinions. His suggestion that a single book could improve my blogging chances success, was enough to dig up my deepest hat and sit in the streets to raise my balance to those 18 dollars, plus taxes, plus customs, plus delivery.
This happened a year ago or so. When the book arrived a few weeks later, I had already forgotten that I ordered it and my blog had gathered more dust than the desk I was supposed to do all that writing, that would get me all that success.
A few months ago I restarted where I’d left off: the beginning. The fact that I’m no longer a student had something to do with it. I have yet to pay my tuition and pick up that sheet of paper, proof I’m now a qualified contributor to society’s work market. My Peter Pan complex has delayed the inevitable. I guess sneaking around at night into little girls’ bedrooms sprinkling fairy dust around me, leaves no time to pick up diplomas.
Despite delaying the inevitable, I knew that I now have no real goal, I’m done with school for now, and I doubt I’ll be able to find a job and… I do have a blog. So I’ve been working on it. For the first time, I managed to stay mildly consistent for a few months. Three or more posts a week, creating images for them, even GIF’s (yes, those are my tiny hands), I’ve even gotten a few Facebook followers. So yeah, things are getting pretty serious. Time to shake off the dust of Farnsworth’s Classic Rhetoric, have an asthma attack, and get serious about writing.
“EVERYONE SPEAKS and writes in patterns. Usually the patterns arise from unconscious custom; they are models we internalize from the speech around us without thinking much about it. But it also is possible to study the patterns deliberately and to learn more about how to use the ones that make the words they arrange more emphatic or memorable or otherwise effective.”
Farnsworth goes on to describe snippets of the history of Rhetoric and how its name was tainted by bad politicians; how it undeservedly fell in disuse. That’s one of the reasons the examples will range only from 1600 to 1950, highlighting the work of politicians like Lincoln or Churchill; writers like Dickens or Melville; orators like Henry Grattan or Richard Lalor Sheil.
To read the examples and to analyze them is to learn the craft, so to read from the best must best way to learn it.
The first rhetoric devices consist on the simple repetitions of words and phrases: epizeuxis, epinome, etc.
The repetition can be done in a variety of ways: at the beginning or the ending of phrases, repeating the whole structure of phrases or clauses or plain, simple repetition: The horror! The horror! (epinome, which reminds me of Seinfeld)
I’ll keep updating my readings with my writings. Here’s what I got from the first few pages:
1. Epizeuxis: Repetition of words twice or thrice.
“Reputation, reputation, reputation! Oh, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation, Iago, my reputation!” Othello, 2, 3
“A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!” Richard III, 5, 4
2. Conduplicatio generally: Repetition of words separated by other words.
“A bad cause will ever be supported by bad means and bad men…” Paine, The American Crisis (1783)
“Eighteen of Mr. Tangle’s learned friends, each armed with a little summary of eighteen hundred sheets, bob up like eighteen hammers in a piano-forte, make eighteen bows, and drop into their eighteen places of obscurity.” Dickens, Bleak House (1853)
3. Conduplicatio for enlargement: when the repetition of words happens in the same way as Conduplicatio generally, but the repetition serves to elaborate.
“We are dregs and scum, sir: the dregs very filthy, the scum very superior.” Shaw, Man and Superman (1903)
“You can blast my other passions, but revenge remains – revenge, henceforth dearer than light or food!” Shelley, Frankenstein (1818)
“Now all the difficulty about the tribunal has been removed, and removed by the simple process of complete surrender on our part of the whole case.” Churchill, speech in the House of Commons (1938)
4. Epinome: the repetition of entire phrases.
“He was a beggar, perhaps.” Mr. Dick shook his head, as utterly renouncing the suggestion, and having replied a great many times, and with great confidence, “No beggar, no beggar, no beggar, sir!” Dickens, David Copperfield (1850)
“Who is there so base that would be a bondman? If any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so rude that would not be a Roman? If any, speak; for I have offended him. Who is here so vile that will not love his country? If any, speak; for him have I offended. I pause for reply.” Julius Caesar, 3, 2
5. Epanalepsis: the same word or sentence is repeated at the beginning and end of a sentence or set of sentences.
“Cassius from Bondage will deliver Cassius.” Julius Caesar, 1, 3
“The minority gives way not because it is convinced that it is wrong, but because it is convinced that it is a minority.” Stephen, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity (1873)
“All buttoned-up men are weighty. All buttoned-up men are believed in. Whether or no the deserved and never-exercised power of unbuttoning, fascinates mankind; whether or no wisdom is supposed to condense and augment when buttoned up, and to evaporate when unbuttoned; it is certain that the man to whom importance is accorded is the buttoned-up man.” Dickens, Little Dorrit (1857)
6. Special Effects: to suggest motion, action, or sound.
“A good surgeon is worth a thousand of you. I have been in surgeons’ hands often, and have always found reason to depend upon their skill; but your art, Sir, what is it? – but to daub, daub, daub; load, load, load; plaster, plaster, plaster; till ye utterly destroy the appetite first, and the constitution afterwards, which you are called in to help.” Richardson, Clarissa (1748)
My medicine, work!” Othelo, 4, 1
“Lead on!” said Scrooge. “Lead on! The night is waning fast, and it is precious time to me, I know. Lead on, Spirit!” (to demand and exhort) Dickens, A Christmas Carol (1843)
7. Mixed Themes: repetition that serves as a motif; the second repetition reminds the reader of the first.
“For in tremendous extremities human souls are like drowning men; well enough they know they are in peril; well enough they know the causes of that peril; – nevertheless, the sea is the sea, and these drowning man do drown.” Melville, Pierre (1852)
I’m not the messiah, but you can follow me: