On Eloquence

Front Cover
Yale University Press, 2008 - Literary Criticism - 199 pages
0 Reviews

On Eloquence questions the common assumption that eloquence is merely a subset of rhetoric, a means toward a rhetorical end. Denis Donoghue, an eminent and prolific critic of the English language, holds that this assumption is erroneous. While rhetoric is the use of language to persuade people to do one thing rather than another, Donoghue maintains that eloquence is “gratuitous, ideally autonomous, in speech and writing an upsurge of creative vitality for its own sake.” He offers many instances of eloquence in words, and suggests the forms our appreciation of them should take.

 

Donoghue argues persuasively that eloquence matters, that we should indeed care about it. “Because we should care about any instances of freedom, independence, creative force, sprezzatura,” he says, “especially when we live—perhaps this is increasingly the case—in a culture of the same, featuring official attitudes, stereotypes of the officially enforced values, sedated language, a politics of pacification.” A noteworthy addition to Donoghue’s long-term project to reclaim a disinterested appreciation of literature as literature, this volume is a wise and pleasurable meditation on eloquence, its unique ability to move or give pleasure, and its intrinsic value.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

On eloquence

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Donoghue (English, NYU; Speaking of Beauty) has fashioned a well-written and engaging exploration of eloquence in literature. He defines eloquence and the role it plays in culture as follows: "The ... Read full review

Contents

Taking Notes
1
The Latin Factor
21
Song Without Words
44
Copyright

2 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2008)

Denis Donoghue is University Professor and Henry James Professor of English and American Letters, New York University. Among his many books are The Practice of Reading; Words Alone: The Poet T. S. Eliot; Speaking of Beauty (a New York Times Notable Book of the Year); and The American Classics: A Personal Essay, all published by Yale University Press.

Bibliographic information