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Renaissance Figures of Speech


  • 5 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 320 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.64 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 809.031
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: PN227 .R46 2007
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Figures of speech in literature
    • European literature--Renaissance, 1450-1600--History and criticism

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521866408)

The Renaissance saw a renewed and energetic engagement with classical rhetoric; recent years have seen a similar revival of interest in Renaissance rhetoric. As Renaissance critics recognised, figurative language is the key area of intersection between rhetoric and literature. This book is the first modern account of Renaissance rhetoric to focus solely on the figures of speech. It reflects a belief that the figures exemplify the larger concerns of rhetoric, and connect, directly or by analogy, to broader cultural and philosophical concerns within early modern society. Thirteen authoritative contributors have selected a rhetorical figure with a special currency in Renaissance writing and have used it as a key to one of the period's characteristic modes of perception, forms of argument, states of feeling or styles of reading.

• Each chapter focuses on a single rhetorical figure • Connects rhetoric to other cultural forms including architecture, music, moral philosophy and science • Combines formalist and historicist approaches


Introduction: the figures in Renaissance theory and practice Sylvia Adamson, Gavin Alexander and Katrin Ettenhuber; 1. Synonymia: or, in other words Sylvia Adamson; 2. Compar or Parison: measure for measure Russ McDonald; 3. Periodos: squaring the circle Janel Mueller; 4. Puns: serious wordplay Sophie Read; 5. Prosopopoeia: the speaking figure Gavin Alexander; 6. Ekphrasis: painting in words Claire Preston; 7. Hysteron proteron, or the preposterous Patricia Parker; 8. Paradiastole: redescribing the vices as virtues Quentin Skinner; 9. Syncrisis: the figure of contestation Ian Donaldson; 10. Testimony: the artless proof R. W. Serjeantson; 11. Hyperbole: exceeding similitude Katrin Ettenhuber; 12. Metalepsis: the boundaries of metaphor Brian Cummings; 13. The vices of style William Poole.


'… this is an outstanding contribution to the subject - the most rewarding book about rhetoric I have ever read and a very fine tribute to the late Jeremy Maule, in whose memory it was conceived.' Neil Rhodes, Review of English Studies

'… this collection is an excellent introduction to Renaissance rhetoric and its significance for early modern thinking and writing.' Stephen B. Dobranski, Studies in English Literature 1500–1900

'… this collection's innovative focus and scholarly precision make for a necessary addition to Renaissance rhetorical and literary studies.' Melissa Hudler, Early Modern Literary Studies

'This is one of the most important works on Renaissance rhetoric to be published in recent years … Summing up: highly recommended.' D. W. Hayes, Choice

'… meticulously edited … it shows how valuable a knowledge of rhetoric can be in understanding how literature used to be written, and read.' Brian Vickers, The Times Literary Supplement


Sylvia Adamson, Gavin Alexander, Katrin Ettenhuber, Russ McDonald, Janel Mueller, Sophie Read, Claire Preston, Patricia Parker, Quentin Skinner, Ian Donaldson, R. W. Serjeantson, Brian Cummings, William Poole

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