An Introduction to Schematismus

Schematismus (derives from the Greek schematizein, literally “a giving of form”), is a figure of speech Opens in new window which consists in the use of indirect methods or circuitous speech to conceal a meaning. The desire to employ this Figure may arise as a necessity to be discreet in certain matters or circumstances; it might be for reason of politeness, or a desire to please the interlocutor, thereby using figurative rather than direct language.

Notable Examples
    In the following letter to “Annie” (Jan. 1849), Poe uses Schematismus almost certainly for the sake of politeness, delicacy — he is alluding to his suicide attempt:
  • The reports, if any such there be — may have arisen, however, from what I did in Providence on that terrible day — you know what I mean: —Oh— I shudder even to think of it.
    — (Ostrom, 418 [qtd. in Brett Zimmerman’s Edgar Allan Poe: Rhetoric and Style])
  • “Anyone could be listening in on this conversation so I must refrain from telling you of the hour that I will arrive. I will only that the same hour that you were so forcefully pushed upon me will be the same hour of my arrival.
    — (qtd. in Gregory T. Howard’s Dictionary of Literary Terms)
Brett Zimmerman, Edgar Allan Poe: Rhetoric and Style | Schematismus (298).Opens in new window
Gregory T. Howard, Dictionary of Rhetorical Terms | Schematismus (195).Opens in new window