The Elements of Eloquence: Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase

Mark Forsyth
Published in 2014
by Berkley

In this book on style and the art of articulation, the author of The Etymologicon and The Horologicon explains the figures of classical rhetoric, dedicating each chapter to a figure of speech with examples of its use, particularly in the works of William Shakespeare. Forsyth begins by noting that Shakespeare was not a genius, and, in fact, his early work was not very good, proving his argument that great writing can be learned. “A poet is not somebody who has great thoughts. That is the menial duty of the philosopher,” writes Forsyth. “A poet is somebody who expresses his thoughts, however commonplace they may be, exquisitely.” In thirty-nine detailed chapters of this wonderfully erudite guide, Forsyth introduces lessons on alliteration, hyperbole, paradox, rhetorical questions, personification, and more that explain the secrets behind the phrases of our most beloved poems, songs, and dialogue.