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).
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