The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase by Mark Forsyth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What a delightful book! Forsyth dove (dived?) deep into the obscurities of rhetoric to enlighten this reader on the many many technical terms for the phrases, forms, devices, maneuvers (okay…I channeled Eddie Izzard on that one), figures, terms, etc. When he opened with
English teaching at school is, unfortunately, obsessed with what a poet thought, as though that were of any interest to anyone. Rather than being taught about how a poem is phrased, schoolchildren are asked to write essays on what William Blake thought about the Tiger; despite the fact that William Blake was a nutjob whose opinions, in a civilised society, would be of no interest to anybody apart from his parole officer. A poet is not somebody who has great thoughts. That is the menial duty of the philosopher. A poet is somebody who expresses his thoughts, however commonplace they may be, exquisitely. That is the one and only difference between the poet and everybody else.
he got my attention!
Packed with information, wonderfully expounded, reinforced with classic examples and peppered saltily with wit, this is a great resource. Forsyth says “This isn’t a dictionary of rhetoric, nor was it meant to be.” and yes, it is much more than a dictionary. And I don’t know what the term would be, or of there even is one, for the opposite of cliffhanger, but Forsyth mastered it, ending each chapter with a tie to the next chapter. He even hyperlinked the last word (okay, word and number) back to the first chapter! Circular!
Recommended. Now I need to read more by Forsyth…
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English is such a trippy language. Words can mean so many things. It’s time for my spring push to prepare the pool for eventual use, and I have to shock it. So I went out in my starkers and yelled “Boo!”
Oh well. Didn’t work last year and didn’t work this morning either. Back to the old chemical methods…multiple bags of shock.
People shock us all the time. No need to explain, I’m sure.
Another shock comes when we mistake small packages for being harmless. Last night I found a tiny ant – it was black and didn’t look like a fire ant – crawling on my hand and before I brushed it off, it apparently bit me right between the knuckles of my first and second fingers. It itched for a while and when I woke up, I thought I had slept on the hand…it felt numb like that. Turns out it was swollen and the numbness was my skin being stretched. A less than three millimeter ant injected enough formic acid to cause that much of a reaction? Shocking!
There’s medical shock, impact shock, hair shock (okay, shock of hair), shocks of grain (sheaves stacked for drying) … lots of shocks. But “shock” also has the electrical connotation.
As long as I can remember, I seem to have an … (pardon) … attraction to static electricity. I don’t mean that I like or am obsessed by it. No, more like the other way around. I’m sure those who live in dry climates, or even just dry seasonal climates have experienced that spark getting out of a car. Or, walking across a room and grabbing a door handle only to receive a jarring jolt of reality that electricity is all around us. For whatever reason, my body seems to pick up more than the average person. And when it lets go… Bam!
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