Farnsworth’s Classical English Metaphor

Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric was the definitive guide to the use of rhetorical devices in English. It became a best-seller in its field, with over 20,000 copies in print. Here now is the natural sequel, Farnsworth’s Classical English Metaphor—the most entertaining and instructive book ever written about the art of comparison.

A metaphor compares two things that seem unalike. Lincoln was a master of the art (A house divided against itself cannot stand). So were Jefferson (The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants) and Shakespeare (All the world’s a stage/And all the men and women merely players). Farnsworth’s book is the finest collection of such figurative comparisons ever assembled.  It offers an original analysis of patterns in the sources and uses of metaphor.  It also explains the different stylistic ways that comparisons can be written, and with what effects.

The book starts by dividing the sources of metaphor into families, including nature, architecture, animals, and myth. It then shows how the best writers have put each of those traditions to distinctive use-for the sake of caricature, to make an abstract idea visible, to make a complicated idea simple. The book provides, along the way, an extraordinarily wide-ranging tour of examples from novelists, playwrights, philosophers, and orators. There is interest, instruction, and amusement to be found on every page.

Ward Farnsworth-lawyer, dean, teacher, and polymath-has produced another indispensable book for the writer. Classical English Metaphor will be a constant source of learning and enjoyment for anyone who appreciates the art of observation and the pleasure of well-chosen words.

If you seek edification about the craft of writing, rarely has instruction been administered so delightfully. –George F. Will, syndicated columnist

A book to linger in, like an imaginatively interactive museum. –Patrick Kurp, Anecdotal Evidence

Ward Farnsworth is a witty commentator…It’s a book to dip in and savor.–Jan Gardner, The Boston Globe

Impressively well written, deftly organized, superbly presented,  a brilliant informational treatise…Very highly recommended for both community and academic libraries.–Willis Buhle, Midwest Book Review

More than analysis, more than reference, this work is astoundingly rich and dense–an education in itself, and highly enjoyable.–Mark Helprin, author of Winter’s Tale

Understand metaphor, understand the world, understand yourself…I could quote to you for the rest of the afternoon without exhausting the richness and sophistication of Mr. Farnsworth’s admirable collection…The more we understand and make use of the possibilities of metaphor, the more profound understanding we will achieve. –John E. McIntyre, The Baltimore Sun

This handsome book…[is structured as] a scholarly anatomy of metaphors, [but] he recognizes that most people will find it a grab-bag of memorable quotations, an ideal browsing book for the nightstand.–Michael Dirda, The Washington Post

A superb job. Figuratively speaking, this is the best book that can be found. –Bryan A. Garner, author of Garner’s Modern English Usage

I want this book to be beside my bed for years to come, a treasure-house of the liquid magic of words. –Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and the Madman

A feat of elegant demystification…Farnsworth is able to focus on the finite material of metaphorical referents…a brilliant strategy, both in its utility for writers and the inherent insight Farnsworth’s divisions suggest about metaphors. –Jonathan Russell Clark, The Millions

Farnsworth’s Classical English Metaphor promises and delivers a gallery of metaphor-masterworks…It is one of those books that inspires a reviewer to sing the delights of dipping in at random or of setting by a bedside for insomniac diversion…But there is another, less precious upshot to the book’s mosaic of metaphors: it gives emphasis not to the genius of individual authors, but to the potential of the English language.” —Essays & Criticism 

Before his appointment as Dean of The University of Texas School
of Law, Ward Farnsworth taught for fifteen years at Boston University law school, where he also served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Dean Farnsworth is Reporter for the American Law Institute’s Restatement (Third) Torts: Liability for Economic Harm. He is author of Restitution: Civil Liability for Unjust Enrichment, published by the University of Chicago Press in 2014; The Legal Analyst, published by the University of Chicago Press in 2007; and Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric and Classical English Metaphor, both published by David R. Godine in 2010.