An anastrophy is a rhetorical stylistic means, which means a reversal of the common syntactic word. Often, the disaster is used to keep a certain rhythm or sound (see Metrum) or to create a rhyme. The concept is thus understood to mean a figure in which, in deviation from the otherwise usual grammatical word setting, two related words are converted. Hysterone proterone and hyperbaton are related.
This term is derived from the Greek and consists of the words aná (ἀνά) for ascending as well as stréphein (στρέφειν) for turn together. The translation of the term thus provides hints as to what the figure is about. Let us look at a few examples:
Red rose, red rose, red rose red,
Little rose on the heathen.
The above example is two verses which complete all verses from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s poem Heidenröslein (see Kehrreim). What is striking here is the adaptation of the adjective red, which stands behind the noun Roslein to which it relates. Usually it is called red rose and not red rose – precisely this reversal of the current word is called an anomaly.
Hänschen small went alone into the wide world […]
The above line is the beginning of a well-known child member (see children’s rhymes). In this example as well, there is a reversal of the current order, since the adjective is behind the noun that describes it. It would usually be small and not small. In this case, it is also evident that this conversion allows the rhythmic internal rhyme to be small, alone and inward.
The presented examples are conducive to the sound and rhythm of the respective work, and sound – rather an old-fashioned effect – which is a frequent effect of the disaster. Accordingly, such phrases are increasingly found in popular poetry. The examples are both based on an imitation of the adjective, and the repositioning of the preposition behind the noun is also frequent. An example:
This was undoubtedly fraud.
In the example above, the adverb is unclear. This arises from a conversion of the preposition without doubt behind the noun. The usual sequence would, therefore, be without a doubt, which was interchanged by the disaster. It is clear that the anasthema is not only a lyrical construct, but also a linguistic use. In the literature, however, all kinds of changes are to be found:
Why do you hide your origin from him?
In this example, which was taken from Goethe’s Iphigenie on Tauris, it is, for example, a reproof of the personal pronoun. Usually, this would be between you and yours, which is why this sentence differs from the usual word and is to be regarded as an anomaly.
Short overview: The most important thing about the Stilfigur at a glance
The disaster is a linguistic stylistic means, which means a reversal of the common syntactic word. The figure is mostly used to realize a certain rhythm and rhyme or to simulate a particularly high-pitched speech.
Many of the possible transpositions have a sublime effect, and the adaptation of the adjective behind the noun to which it refers can be quite popular, and is therefore also a frequent stylistic device in poetry and folk songs.
In part, the disaster appears as a means to make the verse of a particular form submissive. Martin Opitz, a poet and a theorist of the Baroque, spoke out against this mission, which may reveal the author’s abilities.
Note: The terms inversion and disaster are often used synonymously. In the narrower sense, however, inversion mainly refers to the unusual position of the predicate and the subject.