Apophasis

Entertainment / Literature / Apophasis: Denying one's intention to talk or write about a subject, but making the denial in such a way that the subject is actually discussed. For instance, a candidate for the senate might start his speech declaring, 'I don't have time to list the seventeen felony counts my opponent faces, or the lurid rumors of my opponent's sexual behavior with sixteen-year old girls, or the evidence that he is engaged in tax evasion. Instead, I am going to talk about my own qualities that I would bring to the senate if you vote for me . . .' A fine example of apophasis in Shakespeare comes from Mark Antony's funeral speech in Julius Caesar: I come not, friends, to steal away your hearts. I am no orator, as Brutus is, But, as you know me all, a plain blunt man . . . For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth, Action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech, To stir men's blood, I only speak right on. Here, even as Mark Antony claims he is not present to win the listener's favor with fine words, he uses fine words to convince them. Contrast with aporia and aposiopesis, below.

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