A Handbook of Rhetoric and Prosody
Jaydip Sarkar & Anindya Bhattacharya
140 x 216 mm
Year of Publishing
Territorial Rights
Orient BlackSwan

How can language be used to entertain, to persuade, to emotionally affect us? What is it about a piece of writing that makes it stylish or appealing or well-written? Orient BlackSwan’s A Handbook of Rhetoric and Prosody aims to provide a clear understanding of the techniques used by writers, from the classical age to the present day, to make their words resonate with their audience. Written primarily for students and teachers of English literature—both at the undergraduate and the postgraduate level—this handy reference book examines every important rhetorical and prosodic device in a thorough and engaging manner.

The tropes and figures of speech in the ‘Rhetoric’ section of the book are categorised by type. This section not only defines each rhetorical term in lucid, accessible language, but also looks at its evolution, and analyses its use in detail through numerous examples culled from across centuries and genres. The ‘Prosody’ section introduces the reader to the varieties of regular and irregular metre found in English verse, along with various terms related to prosody. Most importantly, this section contains step-by-step guidance on the scansion of verse passages. In both sections, guided exercises and worked-out passages supplement and enhance the reader’s understanding of each topic.

A Handbook of Rhetoric and Prosody will help students develop the skill of close reading of verse and prose passages. Understanding the way language works is essential for better appreciation and criticism of not only literature across the ages, but also of current socio-political and media discourses.

Jaydip Sarkar and Anindya Bhattacharya are associate professors of English at University B.T. & Evening College, a constituent college of North Bengal University. They are the co-editors of Writing Difference (Atlantic), Unmasking Power (Papyrus) and Understanding Satire (Books Way).

Preface vii


Rhetoric: a brief history 2 | Figures of speech 13

One      Figures based on analogy, agreement or similarity simile 15 | metaphor 23

Two     Figures based on association metonymy 32 | synecdoche 37 | transferred epithet (hypallage) 41 | allusion 42

Three   Figures based on difference or contrast antithesis 45 | epigram 48 | oxymoron 53 | climax 56 | anticlimax and bathos 58 |
syllepsis (condensed sentence) 60 | paradox 63

Four     Figures based on imagination personification 65 | prosopopoeia 71 | personal metaphor 72 | pathetic fallacy 73 | apostrophe 77 | invocation 79 | vision 80 | hyperbole 82

Five     Figures based on indirectness innuendo 89 | irony 92 | sarcasm 96 | periphrasis (circumlocution) 98 | euphemism 100 |
meiosis 101 | litotes 102

Six       Figures based on emotion interrogation (erotesis) 104 | exclamation 106

Seven   Figures based on construction hendiadys 109 | chiasmus 112 | ellipsis 113 | zeugma 114 | polysyndeton and asyndeton 117 | hyperbaton (inversion) 119 | anaphora (epanaphora) 121 | epistrophe (epiphora) 122

Eight    Figures based on sound alliteration, consonance and assonance 123 | pun (paronomasia) 127 | onomatopoeia 130

Nine     Miscellaneous figures tautology 132 | pleonasm 133 | prolepsis 134 | paraleipsis 135 | catachresis 136 | ornamental epithet 137 | aposiopesis 137

Ten      Exercises 139


Kinds of poetry 148 | Terms used in prosody 151 | Poetic diction 157

One      Metrical feet, and how they ‘walk’
How metres are named 158 | How to scan verse 159 | Metres in English verse 163

Two     Special cases: differently formed feet 169

Three   Rhyme schemes and stanza patterns 173

Four     Guided exercise: scansion of verse passages 177

Five     Exercises 207

References 217

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