MARK TWAIN, ASYNDETON, AND POLYSYNDETON. Nick and Elmer have been discussing tricolon, one of the classical figures of speech that our high school Latin teacher, Lois Larson, taught us. Henry Hitchings had a review in the Wall Street Journal (December 15) of FARNSWORTH’S CLASSICAL ENGLISH RHETORIC (by Ward Farnsworth) which features examples of Mark Twain’s use of classical rhetoric. Hitchings cites Twain’s use of asyndeton—the absence of conjugations —“Munich did seem the horriblest place, the most desolate place, the most unendurable place.” And Farnsworth also takes an example from Twain of polysyndeton—the repeated use of a conjunction—“A German daily is the slowest and saddest and dreariest of the inventions of man.” Notice that both quotations from Twain are also examples of tricolon.

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