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on 5 June 2017
Highly accessible, sparklingly witty, hugely informative, achingly beautiful and - dare I say it - entirely essential.
Buy. Read. Recommend.
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on 18 July 2017
A great book.
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on 19 July 2017
Just as it says on the cover.
Read and then write.
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on 21 August 2017
Fast service, decent read.
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on 21 September 2017
Some useful advice, ingeniously presented; gets a little tedious toward the end. Well worth a read.
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on 2 December 2013
A very entertaining adventure through many words,and phrases, and not, on any account, to be read too quickly. I am enjoying it.
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on 11 September 2017
I learnt a lot from this book
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on 28 August 2017
A very interesting read. It covers points of grammar I'd never heard of. Good clear examples.
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on 21 October 2016
This could have been a jaw-drippingly dull read, but Forsyth's style and humour carry it along so well, I was disappointed to reach the end.

I bought The Elements of Eloquence after seeing the pithy analysis of English word order (Chapter 8: Hyperbaton):

“adjectives in English absolutely have to be in this order: opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose Noun. So you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that word order in the slightest you’ll sound like a maniac.”

The writing is informative but engaging; intelligent but accessible. Forsyth mostly explains the rhetorical figures by employing the figure in his explanation: so he explains epistrophe by ending every sentence with the same words (because that's exactly what epistrophe is); he explains hypotaxis using simple sentences. Short and snappy. The description of farmer's English had me laughing out loud: embarrassing on a crowded train.

Other examples are taken not just from classical literature but also pop music, TV and movies. Most of my time reading this book, I wore a disturbing grin from the sheer pleasure of it.

It's not for everyone. But if you love wordplay, if you love language, if you love the English language like Nabokov and Rushdie love the English language, then you must, must, must read this book. It is joyous.
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on 17 December 2013
Who would ever guess that the figures of rhetoric are the basis of so many speeches and sayings that we admire? The book was a revelation to me of the formal Greek ideas that underpin the more memorable lines we read and hear. It could be academical and dry as dust, but with Mark Forsyth writing it, it's laugh out loud funny.
Drawing on extracts from Shakespeare and John Lennon plus Dickens and Carry On Cleo and a host of others this book reminded me just what joy it can be to live in a literary world.
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