Oxymoronica by Dr. Mardy Grothe is a comprehensive but concise compendium of paradoxical sense and nonsense.


The book’s investigation itself is a bit of oxymoronica: it creates sense out of paradoxes and oxymorons, which seem at first to be nonsense. Grothe discusses this very phenomenon in his book.

Much of the time paradoxes are merely implied, but that detracts nothing from the irony:

Drawing on my fine command of language, I said nothing.

This was said by American humorist Robert C. Benchley. Perhaps the great Oscar Wilde can give us some words of wisdom:

George Moore wrote brilliant English until he discovered grammar.

To be natural is a very difficult pose to keep up.

Life is too important to be taken seriously.

Would I recommend this book? I certainly would, but then again, as George Bernard Shaw advised:

Never take anybody’s advice.

Viva la Repartee

Well, I actually finished this book last month, but here goes my review anyways.

Viva la Repartee

Actually, scratch that. I’ll just copy-paste my Amazon review of the book:

This is a brilliant collection of history’s greatest replies. Grothe, in his chapter arrangement, divides the vast body of repartee into distinctive categories, of which each is highly intelligent and entertaining. For each witty quotation, Grothe includes not only the author but also a paragraph on the context that made the reply so great; it is amazing that so many perfect phrases were said at the time they were said. And some men and women were exceedingly clever–these masters of wit appear in the book many times.

I’m an Oscar Wilde fan, so I’ll give one of his examples. In Chapter 1, “Classic Retorts, Ripostes, & Rejoinders,” Grothe tells a story in which Oscar, after one of his plays, received much applause and flowers, as well as a rotten cabbage. Oscar then picked up the trash and replied:

“Thank you, my dear fellow. Every time I smell it, I shall be reminded of you.”

I enthusiastically recommend this book for lovers of words and wit.