Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric

“I must refrain from shouting what a brilliant work this is (præteritio). Farnsworth has written the book as he ought to have written it – and as only he could have written it (symploce). Buy it and read it – buy it and read it (epimone).”—Bryan A. Garner, Garner’s Modern English Usage

Everyone speaks and writes in patterns. Farnsworth is your guide to patterns known as rhetorical figures that can make your words more emphatic, memorable, and effective. This book details the timeless principles of rhetoric from Ancient Greece to the present day, drawing on examples in the English language of consummate masters of prose, such as Lincoln, Churchill, Dickens, Melville, and Burke.

Most rhetorical figures amount to departures from simple and literal statement, such as repeating words, putting words into an unexpected order, leaving out words that might have been expected, asking questions and then answering them. All apply to the composition of a simple sentence or paragraph—repetition and variety, suspense and relief, concealment and surprise, the creation of expectations and then the satisfaction or frustration of them. Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric is for anyone who wants to be a better speaker or writer.

Praise for Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric

Not only educational but delightful.
—David Mamet

The most immediate pleasure of this book is that it heightens one’s appreciation of the craft of great writers and speakers. Mr. Farnsworth includes numerous examples from Shakespeare and Dickens, Thoreau and Emerson, Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln. He also seems keen to rehabilitate writers and speakers whose rhetorical artistry is undervalued; besides his liking for Chesterton, he shows deep admiration for the Irish statesman Henry Grattan (1746-1820), whose studied repetition of a word (“No lawyer can say so; because no lawyer could say so without forfeiting his character as a lawyer”) is an instance, we are told, of conduplicatio. But more than anything Mr. Farnsworth wants to restore the reputation of rhetorical artistry per se, and the result is a handsome work of reference.
—Henry Hitchings, Wall Street Journal

Let me close with an example of hypophora — asking a question and then answering it: “Should you buy “Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric”? If you’re at all interested in the techniques of writing, yes.
—Michael Dirda, Washington Post

So, dear reader, I say it even if I say it myself—get this book! No, really, get this book! Read clever Farnsworth, and read him again, and you may become more clever yourself.
—Carlin Romano, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Every writer should have this book.
—Erin McKean, editor of Verbatim: The Language Quarterly and CEO of Wordnik.com

The best introduction to rhetorical figures which has yet appeared. An essential reference for anyone who studies verbal style.
—Richard A. Lanham, Professor Emeritus of English, UCLA

Mandatory for persons involved in public speaking, this book should prove indispensable also to writers wishing to improve their literary style.
—John Simon, author of Paradigms Lost

I must refrain from shouting what a brilliant work this is (præteritio). Farnsworth has written the book as he ought to have written it – and as only he could have written it (symploce). Buy it and read it – buy it and read it (epimone).”
—Bryan A. Garner, author of Garner’s Modern English Usage

Many things, from dictators to advertising, have made modern people suspicious of and cynical about language mobilized to move us. Fortunately,Ward Farnsworth’s delightful swim in a sea of well-chosen words should help to rehabilitate the reputation of rhetoric.
—George F. Will, syndicated columnist

An engaging and accessible guide, valuable to all who wish to improve their rhetorical skills or better appreciate the abilities of others.
Library Journal

Ward Farnsworth’s invaluable review of classical English rhetoric is not only a vital tool for aiding clear expression, but a timely reminder that, despite the confusion of the present technological age, human nature, and our ability to communicate in clear and often beautiful ways, are unchanging.
—Victor Davis Hanson, co-author of Who Killed Homer?: The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom

Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric is a ‘must’ for any college-level linguistics library and for students interested in literary traditions and the English language. The basic elements of effective speaking and writing, patterns that lend to power, and tips for writers who would use the English language more effectively make for a fine tutorial illustrating invaluable rhetorical usage. History and modern perspectives blend in this outstanding guide!
California Bookwatch

What might have been (and in many texts on rhetoric is) a dry analysis full of rebarbative Greco-Latin terminology (epizeuxis!) becomes an enchanted garden of lively English prose. . . . By the time you’ve read through the varied examples in each chapter, you not only understand the technique involved, you feel a warm glow of pleasure (and perhaps a desire to read an author who has been only a name to you, if that).
The book is beautifully designed (in Sabon Next type) and provides its examples in a handsome format, laid out on the page with plenty of white space with the source (author, title, date) in smaller type in the outer margin. I admire it; I appreciate it; I recommend it.
—Steven Dodson, The Millions

From Epizeuxis to Prolepsis, law professor Ward Farnsworth’s guide to figures of speech is a word-lover’s delight.
Bloomsbury Review