|Abstract||One explanation of the phenomenon of alienation in our culture lies in the absence of any communal rhetorical expectations, any consensus about the nature and uses of language. Efforts to solve this problem based upon traditional concerns with the relation of speaker and audience, while still useful in lesser contexts, fail to provide the larger culture with a sense of its discourse because the conditions of public discourse have altered radically. Given the nature of our communications media and the contexts in which speaking takes place, speaker and audience are most often, in rhetorical terms, completely isolated from each other. Intentions cannot be known nor can emotions be observed. A paradigm of this situation can easily be drawn from literary history. Much argument and little agreement results from any attempt to analyze the rhetorical purposes of a literary figure such as Chaucer. No solid evidence, in the usual sense of that term, exists. Martin Heidegger offers a resolution of this problem when he observes that in the case of any great poem" . . . who the author is remains unimportant . . . . " Not the speaker but what Heidegger calls the "speaking" of language itself is the key to effective discourse. Heidegger suggests that the only ultimately viable rhetorical concern is with the internal workings of the words themselves in a given discourse, as distinct from the speaker, audience, or content of a discourse. This point of view provides a direction, if not a methodology, for rhetorical analysis. Samuel Johnson's Rambler Papers, Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France and William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell are interesting when approached from such a standpoint. Traditional rhetorical analysis can adequately deal with the vast differences in the styles and situations on the three writers but leaves us with a description of the differences between the modes of neoclassical and romantic rhetoric, rather than explaining why each uses language with a powerful authenticity. The three works in question evidence a common internal rhetorical pattern, however. Each proceeds in a context that is, given the differences, nevertheless essentially spatial rather than linear. The Ramblers, the Reflections, and the Marriage all have the structure of a montage. This characteristic accounts for the sense of breadth and of openness which is the common denominator of their rhetorical effect. An approach to the internal workings of discourse as an item in itself is a mode of rhetorical criticism which offers important possibilities. We always have the evidence of a man's words and, given our cultural situation, precious few other kinds of evidence with which to evaluate the authenticity of his discourse. Such evidence at least allows us to see similarities in the discourse of Blake, Johnson and Burke which render the latter two figures decidedly more contemporary than they might otherwise seem. The strategies which these three writers adopt in their struggle to overcome their partiality are also sources for our own struggle to achieve an authentically communal rhetoric.