Here are some words to describe figures of speech I have learned from reading At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien…

Litotes: (ly-toe-tez) understatement, especially affirmation by negation of the contrary, eg ‘not a little angry’ = furious.

“[I] observed that it would probably do us no harm”

Anadiplosis: rhetorical repetition of an important word (or sometimes phrase).

Epanastrophe: a device where the end of one clause is made the beginning of the next, a repetition or resumption with the same words.

“fast winding will lead to jerks, jerks will lead to strain, and strain to breakage”

Anaphora: the rhetorical device of beginning successive sentences or lines with the same word or phrase.

“Idleness darkens the understanding; idleness weakens the will; idleness leaves you a very good mark for the sinful schemes…”

I can’t see when I’ll ever use these, but what great words! And it’s a great book: surreal, nonsensical, imaginative, bizarre, profound – I want to read it again!

Advertisements