Rhetorical Figure

Rhetorical FigureWikipedia: “A technique that an author or speaker uses to convey to the listener or reader a meaning with the goal of persuading him or her towards considering a topic from a different perspective.” There are literally hundreds of literary devices and rhetorical figures, or tools for communication. Some of these tools are particularly common or useful; some, we encounter often in great literature but rarely use in our own academic essays.

The best book on rhetorical figure is Lanham’s A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms, Second Edition. It’s neither long nor pedantic; it’s just a well-written, smartly indexed small encyclopedia of rhetorical figures, devices, terms, and concepts. Each entry has great examples. I can’t tell you how useful this book is for teaching advanced classes in literature, especially concerning work written before 1800.

Another wonderful resource is Silva Rhetoricae: The Forest of Rhetoric, a guide to the terms of classical and renaissance rhetoric maintained by Dr. Gideon Burton of Brigham Young University. This site is divided into major concepts (trees) and individual terms (flowers).

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