The Elements of Eloquence

  • by Mark Forsyth
  • Narrated by Don Hagen
  • 5 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From classic poetry to pop lyrics, from Charles Dickens to Dolly Parton, even from Jesus to James Bond, Mark Forsyth explains the secrets that make a phrase - such as "O Captain! My Captain!" or "To be or not to be" - memorable. In his inimitably entertaining and wonderfully witty style, he takes apart famous phrases and shows how you too can write like Shakespeare or quip like Oscar Wilde. Whether you’re aiming to achieve literary immortality or just hoping to deliver the perfect one-liner, The Elements of Eloquence proves that you don’t need to have anything important to say - you simply need to say it well. In an age unhealthily obsessed with the power of substance, this is a book that highlights the importance of style.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Who knew rhetoric could be so much fun?

(Yes, that's a rhetorical question.)
This is not for everybody, but this is probably a bookish crowd, right? (We have a second rhetorical question already? Oops, and there's another?.) If you are delighted by English words and phrases, I recommend this. The author almost dances through it, tossing jokes everywhere. The narrator is ideal -- I wonder whether my laughing aloud on my listening-walks is at the wit of the author (and his often smartly goofy portrayals of very ostensibly serious writings) or the narrator's understated puckish style that always seems casual and yet right on the edge of laughter. This is a nice trip through English poetry and literature of the last few hundred years too. There are many little deconstructions of Shakespeare, also Dickens, William Blake, a bit of Jane Austen, some Churchill, on and on.
I see the author has other books here, and I won't hesitate to snap them up.
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- Phil O.

Quick! Answer This:

What do Jesus and John Lennon have in common? Shakespeare and Sting? The greatest fun of "The Elements of Eloquence" is finding out. Sure Shakespeare gets the lion's share of coverage, along with some Austen, Dumas, and other classics. But here you'll find references to Quentin Tarantino, Snoop Dogg, quotes from modern politicians.
This is a hilarious work covering elements I'd never known the names of, and some I'd never heard of. It's enlightening, and like I said, the examples are so much fun. I learned so much (the most important thing being: You actually CAN end a sentence with a preposition! So take THAT Mrs. Bryson!).
I suggest listening to it at x1.25 speed, as even then it flows casually.
This is so enjoyable for both readers and writers. For readers: You can listen in one sitting. For writers: You'll want to come back to this again and again!
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- Gillian

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-07-2014
  • Publisher: Gildan Media, LLC