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A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms Paperback – 1 Jul 1992

4.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Paperback, 1 Jul 1992
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Product details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 2nd Revised edition edition (1 July 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520076699
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520076693
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 16.4 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 916,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"The prose is wonderfully lucid, and the commentary is sensitive to the relationships not only between the traditions of rhetoric and recent developments in literature studies but also between rhetoric and the role of electronic technologies in formulating new notions of argument and textuality."--"Choice

About the Author

Richard A. Lanham is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of California, Los Angeles, and President of Rhetorica, Inc., in Los Angeles.


Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 21 Mar. 1999
Format: Paperback
I keep 5 reference books on writing w/in arms reach of my desk; this is one of them. The book catalogs every rhetorical flourish I've ever heard of, provides vivid examples of each, and witty and insightful commentary on many of them.
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tough going in places​, but comprehensive. phew
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very useful book for my studies. Really handy to have all these definitions of obscure terms near at hand. A really good investment.
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My grandchild loved it
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars 21 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Suitable Overview of Rhetoric 25 April 2014
By Neil Shephard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It’s a marvel what the ancients achieved minus the technology modern man employs. In certain areas their mastery leaves little room for addition, if not improvement. This book provides a look into the close attention Greece and Rome paid to rhetoric; the art, the science, the craft – whatever it be considered – of language’s use to convey or convince or explain. Rhetoric has nothing to do with words in the singular but everything to do with them in combinations. In those days oratory mattered to anyone seeking a place among the hierarchy. Oratory conjured action. Rhetoric gave oratory its juice.

Originally rhetoric applied not to documents but the utterance. Not only in politics did it reign but in law. As Demosthenes persuaded Athenians to oppose Phillip of Macedonia, so did Cicero persuade the Roman senate to outlaw Cato. In those days rhetoric rendered by pen was negligible, by voice it was foremost in public affairs.

Oratory these days lacks the prominence it once had. Politics and trials depend more on agreement between influential individuals (the latter with a lawyers opening and closing statement has the edge over the former). Rhetoric as a study to aid a speaker on a survey of university curriculums is not even conspicuous by its absence. If reduced to near invisibility in the aural arts, rhetoric retains a visible presence in the written ones. Thus, this handbook of rhetorical terminology has value to a person interested in enhancing his/hers writing beyond the mechanics of punctuation, grammar, and usage. However rhetoric is not a cure-all. John Lyly’s Euphues is as bad in its excess of rhetoric as Dick and Jane is in its paucity of the same. Besides valuing rhetoric the ancient Greeks valued moderation too.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let me ask you a rhetorical question. 18 Mar. 2010
By Wayne Barker - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
How could anyone who loves words be without this book?

I cherish my copy. For someone like me who so often thinks, "There must be a name for that" -- prompted by an object, concept, or figure of speech -- this book is a boon and a blast.

I encourage songwriters and lyricists to look over the classic suggestions for rhetorical approach, contained in the appendix. Every item on the list is a line of attack for a song or a poem. I find this inspiring.

This and Schott's Almanac have been kept for months in the bathroom reading bin.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Concise and well written 27 Dec. 2012
By Max Shron - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Lanham's Handlist is an excellent reference or second introduction to classical rhetoric, informed by the best scholarship. I wouldn't recommend it as an introduction. If you want to get a much better grasp on rhetorical terminology it's perfect.

One thing to note: the Handlist has nothing related to 20th century rhetorical terminology. Don't expect concepts from Toulmin or Perelman to crop up here.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ian Myles Slater on: From Abbaser to Zeugma 27 Aug. 2013
By Ian M. Slater - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Despite the 2012 date on the Amazon page, this appears to be simply a new printing, with a different cover, of the 1991 Second Edition of R. A. Lanham's frequently-useful, often engaging, "Handlist of Rhetorical Terms" (First Edition, 1970). (I assume that it has deleted the long-obsolete information about of a Mac version of the second edition, using Hypercard, which was available in the early 1990s.) There are almost a dozen reviews of a previous printing of the second edition, with a dark cover, which is also used for the Kindle edition of the book. The product page for it includes the "Look Inside" feature, missing (as of August 2013) from the newer printing.

Unfortunately, Amazon has failed to link the reviews to this version. For the time being, they are still there to be consulted; I don't know what Amazon will do if/when the "original" Second Edition is no longer available. With luck, they will transfer them to this printing, but the software has been known to miss the connection. [N.B. Mid-September: Amazon has since made the connection.]

As for the book itself: In a widespread current usage, "rhetoric" tends to be the label applied to windy and/or flowery oratory, often with a suggestion of trickery. In dictionary terms, the meaning is considerably broader: "the art of expressive speech or discourse" and "the art or practice of writing or speaking as means of communication or persuasion" (Merriam-Webster). It includes all styles, from the plainest and most "straight-talking" (a nice piece of rhetoric in itself) to the most ornate. Despite what some scientists seem to have been taught, it definitely includes "objective" scientific reports (e.g., "it was observed"), a style invented in the seventeenth century (at least partly to replace highly polemic and argumentative styles, filled with attacks on persons and institutions, which had preceded it in learned discourse).

Another meaning for rhetoric, and a key one for the "Handlist," is a formal area of study of the means of communication and persuasion, mainly spoken, as first described (in the surviving literature) by Aristotle, and elaborated by a series of Classical writers, culminating (for modern purposes) in the "Institutes of Oratory" of Quintilian. It was a basic part of the curriculum in the Middle Ages (if only as a means of preparing sermons), based on late-Roman theory and practice, and was re-invented on a somewhat more classical basis in the Renaissance. Naturally, Rhetoric as a specialization developed its own specialized terms, as a kind of verbal shorthand. The direct borrowing of Greek and Latin terms into English has, over the centuries, competed with "Englished" renderings, mainly Elizabethan; Lanham includes both sets, with cross-references.

At one time rhetoric was a basic part of education; then of higher education; and then, for a good deal of the time, it was pushed to the academic fringes, even while it continued to thrive in places like Washington D.C. and Madison Avenue. The "Handlist" was part of a needed return of rhetorical consciousness to the modern world. (Among other things, slippery words are a lot less slippery when they can be pinned down with a precise label.)

As one of Professor Lanham's sometime (long ago) students at UCLA, I am perhaps not the ideally objective reviewer of this book; still, I've been using one or another edition of it since the early 1970s, sometimes (I hope) to the advantage of my prose style, sometimes just just to satisfy my curiosity. From my point of view, the book sometimes comes close to failing as a helpful manual, because I tend to lose track of what I was looking for, and just browse among the terms, definitions and examples. (This is not quite so much a problem with the Kindle format, which I am now using.) Apparently, the same has befallen other word-lovers (see those other reviews!). Unfortunately, my memory of extended readings doesn't retain nearly as much as I would have hoped.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richard Lanham does an excellent job in A Handbook of Rhetorical Terms 1 Aug. 2014
By K.Taylor - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Richard Lanham does an excellent job in A Handbook of Rhetorical Terms. As a fiction writing, I found the book a valuable reference resource and a learning tool, as well. A great job by Lanham!
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