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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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What made the experience of listening to Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric the most enjoyable?
The sound, and the sense, of English being expressed -- eloquently, effectively, emotionally -- by masters of the language.
Who was your favorite character and why?
WHO: Richard Lalor Sheil stood up, and stood out, with ringing oratory in opposition to the English Protestants' religious oppression of the Irish Catholics.
WHY: The evil at which Sheil spat his words is not entirely a thing of the past.
For example, just recently, right here in New Bedford, Massachusetts, a "born again" neighbor (of the Billy Graham persuasion) aggressively pressured me to substitute his religion for my religion, the Irish Catholic religion, which is also my deceased parents' religion.
So, yeah, when the oratory of Richard Lalor Sheil came to life over Audible.com, I was riveted. I heard. I listened. I learned.
Which scene was your favorite?
Please see my answer to the question, "Who was your favorite character and why?"
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
YES! Please see my answer to the question, "Who was your favorite character and why?"
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