The Elements of Eloquence- Mark Forsyth

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me free of charge (by the publisher) in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from amazon)

In an age unhealthily obsessed with substance, this is a book on the importance of pure style, from the bestselling author of The Etymologicon and The Horologicon. From classic poetry to pop lyrics and from the King James Bible to advertising slogans, Mark Forsyth explains the secrets that make a phrase – such as ‘Tiger, Tiger, burning bright’, or ‘To be or not to be’ – memorable. In his inimitably entertaining and witty style he takes apart famous lines and shows how you too can write like Shakespeare or Oscar Wilde. Whether you’re aiming for literary immortality or just an unforgettable one-liner, The Elements of Eloquence proves that you don’t need to have anything to say – you simply need to say it well.


When I heard Mark Forsyth had a new book coming out I was really excited. I had a bit of a book crush on The Etymologicon, and loved The Horologicon too. So I immediately snatched it up when Icon Books e-mailed me, and read it more or less straight away.

I was a bit unsure if I would like it as much as the previous two, because it was about using words rather than their meaning and history. It’s certainly less quotable (I did a whole separate post of snippets from The Etymologicon), but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good, just different.

In some ways The Elements of Eloquence is more useful. You can use what is in it to make your writing, and speaking, better, or I suppose more stylised. A lot of the elements were things I recognised as being right, but didn’t really know why, it was interesting to see a bit of why. It was also good to learn the elements that I didn’t know.

I read this whilst doing NaNoWrimo, and I do think it improved my writing a little, or at least made me more aware of how I was writing things- even if I would have written it like that without reading The Elements of Eloquence.

Mark Forsyth is great to read. Easy, but interesting and informative. Intelligent and witty. I would certainly recommend his books to anyone interested in English and words. And his blog too. He was, after all, a blogger before he became a ‘writer’. I also recommend the hardback over the kindle version, it’s a beautiful book.

I certainly advocate a return to learning rhetoric in schools, and all the students should be set this to read! n fact they should just read it anyway.


Buy it:
Hardback (£7.23)
Kindle (£4.79)

Other reviews:
Have I missed your review? Post a link in comments and I will add it here.


Filed under Language, non-fiction review

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