Wednesday 11 April 2012

Rhetorical terms 1 and 2 - this could be fun

For some reason as I was hunting for a toilet in Foyle's bookshop, I bought 'A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms' (Second edition) by Richard A.Lanham (University of California Press)

I didn't find the toilet and I can't find the rhetorical term for not finding what you're looking for but nevertheless the book is great bus and train reading.

Here's rhetorical term 1 I've selected  from Lanham's Rhetoric (as I shall call it)

chleuasmus - a sarcastic reply that mocks an opponent and leaves him with no answer. (This makes me think of some of Dorothy Parker's one-liners like the one she threw at the person who had been going on and on about having a baby. When it was born and the woman told Parker,  Parker said, 'We always knew you had it in you.'

And here's term 2

eidolopoeia - presenting a dead person as speaking or the speech of a dead person, not so much as a ghost but in an argument or description. The example Lanham gives is of the speech in Henry V where the dead men's arms and legs and heads on the battlefield are imagined as speaking.

"But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath
a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and
arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join
together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at
such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a
surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind
them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their
children rawly left."

Quite apart from this being pedants' delight (which would make a good name for a university pub, wouldn't it?), some of these work as possible starting points for anyone of any age looking for writing ideas.

I will do these as occasional posts