Ever Since I had a debating contest at the Speakers’ corner in Hyde park, London in January 2011, I have had the privilege of reading several books by a number of classical authors on the subject of rhetoric and oratory at the British Library.
After my performance (handily won by the way against a conservative politician) A few works listed below, were among the books that I read:
- Art of rhetoric by Aristotle.
- Rhetoric and Renaissance by Heinrich F. Plett.
- Renaissance Rhetoric by Peter Mack.
- The rhetoric of Cicero in its medieval and early renaissance by Virginia Cox.
None of these listed books seemed to hit my intellectual sweet spot, until I discovered a book written by a French theologian( Louis Eugene Marie Bautain)in the mid 19th century, titled Art of extempore speaking; hints for the pulpit, senate and the bar.
When you think of all the phenomenal orators, whose speeches have rocked our world in the 20th and 21st Centuries such as, Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, William Jennings Bryan, Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and of course Barack Hussein Obama, you get the impression that Louis Bautain had written this little known book with all of them in mind.
speaking is an art, the finest of arts; it should express the mind by form, ideas by words, feelings by sounds and all that the mind feels, thinks and wishes by signs and external action
Monsieur Bautain goes on to write about the disposition of mind needed for a great orator
A lively sensibility, penetrating intelligence, sound reason, prompt imagination, a firm and decisive will, natural necessity of expansion and a certain instinct which urges a man to speak.
he who delights in images and pictures feels more vividly everything that he can grasp and reproduce in his imagination.
rises to poetry in his prose, speaks to the imagination of his hearers. attract by originality, the variety of his pictures. vivacity and brilliance of his coloring.
People are excited by ideas, feelings and images. for a strong sensibility, it must not be excited to stress. before the public, he must not weep or be moved to the point that his voice will fail him or be stifled by sobs
must weep with his voice, master his emotions. The feelings cannot explode at once; little by little, till the entire body is aroused.
These words of wisdom and many more captured in this extraordinary book spoke to me powerfully like none other, as such, I am compelled to recommend it to any would be orator.
Fortunately, it can be found online on amazon.
Happy reading and feel free to share books on oratory that makes you feel the way I do about Monsieur Bautain’s.