Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Elements of Eloquence

I loved this book. I tend to do a lot of public speaking as well as writing, and so finding the right turn of phrase that makes a point particularly compelling is something I think about a lot. And this book is about that, and nothing else. In it, Mark Forsyth makes the bold argument that tricky turns of phrase are largely what makes Shakespeare great, and then illustrates dozens of them, each in its own chapter. Some are well known by their names, such as Personification and Alliteration, but many more have cryptic names (Anadiplosis, Diacope, and Epizeuxis, for example) even though the effects themselves are very familiar. Were I still young, I would likely set about memorizing these cryptic terms and using them in conversation. Thank goodness I'm no longer young. But still, I will keep this fun, clever book around, as a reminder about the clever little tricks that make for excellent prose.

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