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April 15, 2009

Semiology and Rhetoric

"The grammatical model of the question becomes rhetorical not when we have, on the one hand, a literal meaning and on the other hand a figurative meaning, but when it is impossible to decide by grammatical or other linguistic devices which of the two meanings (that can be entirely contradictory) prevails.(de Man 368)

Paul de Man provides an interesting analysis of the continuity between grammar and rhetoric--two literary constructs which by common definition could be considered intermittent. I felt that de Man's essay really took form when he made reference to Jaques Derrida's statement: "Confronted with the question of the difference between grammar and rhetoric, grammar allows us to ask the question, but the sentence by means of which we ask it may deny the very possibility of asking."(368) Angela Palumbo effectively approaches this portion of de Man's essay in her blog.

From de Man's essay I felt that the main issue he proposed and acknowledged was that due to the reductive nature of literary formalism and the deconstructive possibilities of any given sentence based primarily upon grammar and/or rhetoric it would seem that the delusivness found between these particular literary constructs do more to add to the exclusive potential for its success, rather than its possibility of failure.

Posted by QuinnKerno at April 15, 2009 5:15 PM


It is in the set up of the sentence or even surrounding text that the meanings can be derived. Readers can not know something is rhetorical unless they have an understanding of the text before them.

Posted by: Mara Barreiro at April 16, 2009 7:20 AM

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