The classical scholar J. P. Mahaffy (1839-1919) is known equally for his work on Greek texts and Egyptian papyri (several of his books are reissued in the Cambridge Library Collection). He graduated from Trinity College, Dublin, and spent the rest of his working life there, as a fellow, and ultimately as provost from 1914 until his death. This light-hearted book was published in 1887, and the 1888 second edition, with Mahaffy's responses to his critics in the preface, is reissued here. His approach is to analyse the art of conversation in the same way that a classical scholar would analyse the art of rhetoric, discussing theoretical models as well as taking examples from history and from his own social life. However, after considering all aspects of conversation, including its universality and necessity, Mahaffy concludes that 'the perfect practice of it is a mystery, which defies analysis'.