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November 05 , 2008

Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You


What do Mae West, John F. Kennedy, Victor Hugo, and H. L. Mencken have in common? They all indulged in chiasmus-a literary device in which word order is reversed to hilarious or poignant effect. When Mae West said, "It's not the men in my life, it's the life in my men," she was using chiasmus; when John F. Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country," he was doing the same. Dr. Mardy Grothe has compiled hundreds of examples of chiasmus in this whimsically illustrated collection, bringing this witty and thought-provoking device out of obscurity and into the public imagination.

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