The aphorism captures a huge amount of truth, meaning or wit in a very short statement. It has been used and studied from classical times to contemporary theory and takes on a new relevance when we look at today’s communication media such as text messages and twitter. This concise guide offers an overview of:
- The history of the aphorism to the present day
- Its relation to other short forms, including the fragment, the proverb, the maxim, the haiku, the epigram and the quotation
- The use of the aphorism by authors such as Heraclitus, Bacon, La Rochefoucauld, Chuang Tzu, Blake, Schlegel, Emerson, Nietzsche, Wilde, Woolf and Barthes
- The interdisciplinary nature of the aphorism, bringing together science, philosophy, literature and religion
Exploring all the key aspects of the form, Ben Grant guides readers through this large and lively area in a wide-ranging and critically informed study of the aphorism.
Table of Contents
Introduction Chapter 1: An Historical Overview Chapter 2: Brevity Chapter 3: Wisdom Chapter 4: Authority Chapter 5: Thoughts and Impressions Chapter 6: Enigma and Paradox Chapter 7: Singularity and Multiplicity Chapter 8: The Aphorism Today Glossary
Ben Grant teaches English Literature at the University of Kent, UK. He is the author of Postcolonialism, Psychoanalysis and Burton: Power Play of Empire (Routledge, 2009).
"This book has no shortage of spark. Grant combines his (exceptionally good) historical overview with cross-cultural comparisons." -- Noreen Masud, The Cambridge Quartley
"Deft, short, sharp, concise, often witty, crammed with scholarship, and instict with wisdom, The Aphorism and Other Short Forms certainly shares many of the qualities of the object(s) of its attention." -- Clare Connors, Oxford Literary Review
"It is worth emphasizing the high quality and wide range of this research: Chapter 7, for example, offers an in-depth discussion of Blanchot, Baudrillard, and Jacques Derrida's views of the fragment and its relation to the aphorism." -- Alexandra Sattler, Modern Language Review