Monday, January 31, 2011

Rhetoric, But in a Good Way

I am reading a new book and, even though I am not even halfway through, I wanted to share my excitement with you. The book is "Farnsworth's Classic English Rhetoric," by Ward Farnsworth, a law professor at Boston University (

Rhetoric has taken a lot of abuse in recent years. The term "political rhetoric" has taken on a slanderous meaning that has tainted the true meaning of the word. Merriam-Webster defines rhetoric as, "the art of speaking or writing effectively." Previous generations learned rhetoric as an important part of a liberal arts education. But the "art of rhetoric" seems to be slipping away in an age of 140 character tweets and microscopic attention spans.

Which is why I am so enjoying Farnsworth's book. I make my living with words, and have great admiration for those writers and speakers who have the ability to make words, phrases and sentences bend and dance to their desired purposes. "Classic English Rhetoric" is filled with sparkling examples of the English language at its best.

There are passages from Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, William Shakespeare, Mark Twain, G.K. Chesterton -- the list goes on. Each drafted to inspire, entice and encourage action. The kind of writing that is all too rare today, but to which I constantly aspire.

I know it is not the latest Harry Potter, or Stephen King, or John Grisham. But if you get a chance to pick up a copy of "Farnsworth's Classic English Rhetoric" I think you may enjoy it as much as I am. All while learning something old that is new again.

No comments:

Post a Comment