I'm quite a fan of David Lodge's book The Art of Fiction (1993). Here's the beginning of his entry on Irony:
"In rhetoric, irony consists of saying the opposite of what you mean, or inviting an interpretation different from the surface meaning of your words. Unlike other figures of speech - metaphor, simile, metonymy, synecdoche etc. - irony is not distinguished from literal statement by any peculiarity of verbal form. An ironic statement is recognized as such in the art of interpretation."
Then he goes on to quote the beginning of Pride and Prejudice "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a fortune, must be in want of a wife."
Lodge's book is one of the very few craft books that is clear, precise, and filled with simple, exact examples.
Labels: writing craft