Scholia Reviews ns 8 (1999) 2.

Gert Üding (ed.), Historisches Wörterbuch der Rhetorik, Vol. I, A - Bib.. Pp. viii + 1592. ISBN 3-484-68101-2. DM 248.00. Gert Üding (ed.), Historisches Wörterbuch der Rhetorik, Vol. II, Bie - Eul. Pp. vi + 1590. ISBN 3-484-68102-0. DM 248.00. Gert Üding (ed.), Historisches Wörterbuch der Rhetorik, Vol. III, Eup. - Hor. Pp. v + 1610. ISBN 3-484-68103-9. Max Niemeyr Verlag, Tübingen, 1992-96. DM248.00.

Bernhard Kytzler
Department of Europe Studies, University of Natal

There can be no doubt that the new interest in rhetoric, which has brought into existence so many learned publications during the present decade,[[1]] makes this lexicon a most welcome tool for further research. It not only provides classical scholars with detailed information on all the rhetorical terms but it also opens up for them a broad range of related aspects, explaining a number of different facets of the subject in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and modern times, including subjects like radio and film, 'Diskurs' and 'Demagogie'. To give an impression of the wide variety of the entries: right in between 'Charisma' and 'Chiffre' we find 'Chiasm'; between 'Feldherrnrede' and 'Festrede' appears 'feministische Rhetorik'. In fact, the editor enumerates in his preface (p. vif.) almost a dozen fields which are brought here together for interdisciplinary work.[[2]]

A tool ought to be handy, efficient and easy to operate. This series is planned to cover no less than 10 volumes, and if it cannot therefore be physically easy to handle, its lucidity will be helpful to the reader. Indeed, the editor and his crew of four sub-editors (Gregor Kalivoda, Heike Mayer, Franz-Hubert Robling, Thomas Zinsmaier) have gone out of their way to ensure perspicuity. A board of 11 experts at the head of an international team of more than 300 scholars (including Umberto Eco, who contributed Geheimsprache, i.e. 'secret language'), have created an impressive 4800 columns of admirably enlightening articles in the first three volumes.

There are three overall categories of articles: those that give concise definitions, those that are longer and more substantive, and those that focus on research. Internally, they are organised under the headings of (A) Definition, and (B) History, followed by the sub-headings (a) Annotations, (b) Bibliography, and (c) References to pertinent lemmata. There are corrigenda at the end of each of the volumes, lists of abbreviations and the like.[[3]] A very helpful appendix to each volume is the 'Artikelverzeichnis' in which one can check the entries spread out over 1600 columns on just two pages -- obviously an addition that saves the user a lot of time and energy.

So far so good. English readers will note with some relief headings such as 'Ghostwriter' and 'Camouflage', 'Farce' and 'Feedback', 'Creative writing' and 'Close reading', 'Eulogy' and 'Error'. They will even come across the 'AIDA formula' which is PR-jargon and stands for Attention - Interest - Desire - Action. Nothing better than an acronym! And English too (more or less) in a continental Wörterbuch! Make no mistake, though; the articles themselves are all in German, and the heading 'Error' here is not an English, but a Latin word. All the other lemmata are given either in Latin or Greek or German -- except for a few headings in French or Italian. And this is where the trouble begins.

There are, for instance, two articles, one called 'Anthologie', the other 'Florilegium'. Both of them contain references to the other, but it remains an open question to what extent both cover the same ground. Similarly, there is one article on 'Chironomie' (A),[[4]] another one on 'Gebärde' (B), and a third one on 'Gestik' (C). A and C are illustrated each by some ten or so drawings, B is not; A refers to C, but not to B, which itself offers references to both its rivals, as does C. A lack of coordination is clearly apparent.

Unfortunately, there is another, more important instance of this. We encounter 'Beredsamkeit' in the first volume and 'Eloquentia' in the third. The first article covers 31 columns and includes the entire plethora of 'Antike' (subdivided into 'Griechen' and 'Römer'), thereafter 'Mittelalter', followed by 'Renaissance, Humanismus, Reformation', then 'Barock', 'Aufklärung' (including 'Natürlichkeitsideal'), '19th century' and finally '20th century'. The second consists of only 8 columns and does not go beyond 'Frühe Neuzeit'. Again, the reasons for this clumsy combination of two separate articles covering much the same ground remain unclear; the unifying hand of the editor is lacking.

One might argue that too much is better than too little. But the most difficult feature for the user is indeed the book's indiscriminate use of different languages in its headings. Here are three more examples: if one is looking for 'Epos' or 'Epigram' or 'Episode' one naturally turns to the letter 'E'. But for 'Epistle' you have to go to 'B'. Why? Because 'Brief' begins with 'B'. And the 'Sublime'? This in turn is to be found under 'E' because 'E' stands for 'Erhabene, das'. And Aptum? It is hidden, some 150 columns earlier, in 'Angemessenheit'. In other words: the system is certainly useful for German readers (who also might have to think a while about Aptum / Angemessenheit), but it is at times difficult for those who do not have an intimate knowledge of this language. Certainly the overall method cannot be changed now after the completion of three volumes; but at least it is not too much to ask from the editor that he provide as many cross references as possible in future volumes.

An afterword on 'das Erhabene': part A (definition) comprises 12 lines; part B (history) 32 columns. Of these, no less than 8 are filled by 190 notes to sections IV and V, whereas the notes to sections I-III (by another author) fill not much more than one single column. Clearly, balance and proportions are grossly neglected. Again, the editor should distribute the material more evenly.

To come back to the language issue: It is certainly helpful to have practically all non-German texts translated into German. However, given the role of English these days as lingua franca worldwide, especially in academic circles, it is hard to see the need to translate quotations from this language. On the other hand, a Hebrew example from Ecclesiastes 1.2 (Vol. III p. 280) is discussed but not transliterated; it needs an interlinear version for full understanding. And quoting Raymond Queneau's (1903-1976) French novel in German only without also providing the original is without doubt one of the seven deadly sins against the Holy Trinity of precision, fullness and taste.[[5]]

A further warning: no proper names are included. There is no Cicero, no Demosthenes, no Antiphon. However, there is a brilliant article on Ciceronianism, and instead of 'Demosthenes' we find a stimulating entry 'Denkmalsrhetorik', a most welcome eye-opener. May we suggest that, in a final index to the lexicon, those proper names that are relevant to rhetoric be listed for the researchers' convenience?

Concerning the book's selection of lemmata, we see an astonishingly wide variety. There are a lot of phenomena included which one might put under the label of 'Cultural Studies'. Researchers of Politeness Studies for instance will be delighted to find themselves treated to articles like 'gentilhomme', 'gentleman', 'Hofmann' and 'Honnête homme'; later on, there will be 'Kavalier'; all this to be topped by 'Höflichkeit' itself -- or herself, if you like. Other 'Cultural Studies' articles include 'Antike', 'Apollinisch - Dionysisch', 'Artistenfakultät' and 'Bild, Bildlichkeit', also 'Bildung' i.e. 'Enkyklios paideia', finally 'Feuilleton', 'Gelehrtenrepublik'[[6]] and 'Grobianismus'. The small selection offered here so far should make it clear that sociological and psychological points of view are fully represented.

Finally a few gems for purposes of illustration, all taken from the third volume. The article 'Figurengedicht' (pattern poetry) follows after 3 columns on 'Figura Etymologica' and offers 8 columns containing truly enlightening comments on this poetic form from classical antiquity down to our century, including the following: 'Die Materialität der Sprache wird durch das Figurengedicht betont', and 'Das Figurengedicht der Gegenwart ist anti-symbolisch.' Immediately after, we have 'Figurenlehre', a deeply erudite tractatus of more than 50 columns, only to be topped by a concise presentation on 'fiction' and a brilliant article on 'Filmrhetorik'. Attention should also be drawn to 'Furor poeticus' where testimonia from Plato to the contemporary poet Horst Bienek's collection of dialogues with modern authors are presented. There is much more: elucidations on 'Freundschaftsalbum' ('album amicorum', 'Stammbuch') and on 'Fürstenspiegel' ('Mirror of Princes'), on 'Frage' ('Question', interrogation) and on 'Fragment' (explained as utopia ex negativo), on 'Floskel' ('Floscula', 'Empty Phrases') and on 'Flugblatt' ('Pamphlet'). All these lemmata clearly show that rhetoric is taken in an energetically modern sense; not only figures of thought and speech, but also literary forms and their ways of expression, their means and methods are taken into consideration.

To sum up: the three volumes of HWR edited so far demonstrate how ancient rhetoric has given rise to later forms of cultivated eloquence. We are shown a strong segment of the Classical Tradition at work across Europe and across epochs from ancient to modern times. Despite some problems that non-German users might encounter while looking for the right article for their studies, the whole enterprise will be the basis of research into rhetoric for generations to come. Subscription is a must for any serious library; it is also not out of reach for special private collections, given the fact that the funds necessary for all the volumes will be spread over many years into the new millennium.[[7]]


[[1]] To name just a few: H. Lausberg (tr. M.T. Bliss et al. and edited by David E. Orten & R. Dean Andersen), Handbook of Literary Rhetoric: A Foundation for Literary Studies (Leiden 1998); W.J. Dominik (ed.), Roman Eloquence: Rhetoric in Society and Literature (London & New York 1997); S. Porter (ed.), Handbook of Classical Rhetoric in the Hellenistic Period 330 BC - AD 400 (Leiden 1997); G. Kennedy, A New History of Classical Rhetoric (Princeton 1994); I. Worthington (ed.), Persuasion: Greek Rhetoric in Action (London & New York 1994); T. Conley, Rhetoric in the European Tradition (Chicago 1990).

[[2]] '. . . forensische und politische Rede, Homiletik, Topik, Literatur, Gebrauchstexte oder Alltagsrede . . . persuasive Kommunikation, pädagogische oder didaktische Dimension (Problem der Wissenschaftssprachen!) . . . Philosophie.'

[[3]] The corrigenda are located in diaspora: for Vol. I, see Vol. II col.1589f. and Vol. III col. 1605f. 'Nachtrag'. Hopefully, the editors will, sometime in the new Millennium, present a unified overview.

[[4]] It does not take notice of the contribution by Peter Wülfing, Antike und moderne Redegestik in R. Faber & B. Kytzler (edd.), Antike Heute (Würzburg 1992) 68-80, with 13 illustrations.

[[5]] Vol. I Col. 843, where Queneau's 'bizarre and comical effects' are exemplified by a distorted German phrase which I quote: ' . . . ader wihm Bratschläge übetreffs seines Uknopfes rseines Rtttttttttttt-überziehers agab.' Üding has not provided the bibliographic details of Queneau's novel.

[[6]] To which should be added K. Garber & H. Wismann (edd.), Europäische Sozietätsbewegung und demokratische Tradition: Die europäischen Akademien der Frühen Neuzeit zwischen Frührenaissance and Spätaufklärung (Tübingen 1996).

[[7]] A rhetorical guide for the new age has already appeared in the form of Richard Lanham's recent CD ROM, A Hypertext Handlist of Rhetorical Terms for Macintosh Computers (Berkeley 1996).