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April 17, 2009

Gift idea

Elementscover For those of you who like to do your Christmas shopping early (what is wrong with you?), here's one you can add to your list for Gina, Catherine, Lori, me and all the other book nerds of your acquaintance.

The Elements of Style, the definitive writing guide by E.B. White and William Strunk Jr., turns 50 on Thursday. To mark the anniversary, its publisher has released an elegantly bound, gold-embossed hardcover edition containing notes about the book's history.

This would be a much better gift than the one suggested by the Dorothy Parker quote at the end of the NPR piece:

"If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they're happy."

(Image © Longman)

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Comments

LeeQuod

can we buy a cupple of cases so gina can send one to every comenter who cant punctuate or spel?

vikingmother

Yes, the elegant little Elements of Style...Bought a copy of it for my foreign born boss. Is good for us all, but particularly good for the student or professional who is not a native English speaker.

Says so much in so few words...

Michael Snow

This should be the number one guide for writers, but with the infuriating modern mindless use of periods to replace every other punctuation mark, it may be a lost cause.

Second to this, 'On Writing Well' by Zinser is another good guide.

Jason Taylor


I have long thought modern style of writting is weak. It has a tendancy toward the oversweet. Evangelical writers are notably guilty of oversweet piety though in fact Evangelicals do really talk that way in normal life(it's neither saintliness nor hypocrisy; it is unconscious and hence best classified as a folkway). Secular writters can be oversweet too in a different way, especially when making political prounouncements; sometimes even in recruiting ads of all places.
It's hard to describe what I mean by oversweet. The best way is that modern writing often sounds remarkably like a series of slogans written by Shirley Temple.

LeeQuod

My blushes, Jason; here are some quotes from Shirley Temple Black, onetime U.S. Ambassador, staunch Republican, and as patriotic as they come: "Won't the new 'Suggested for Mature Audience' protect our youngsters from such films? I don't believe so. I know many forty-five-year old men with the mentalities of six-year-olds, and my feeling is that they should not see such pictures, either." "Engrave this Quote Our whole way of life today is dedicated to the removal of risk. Cradle to grave we are supported, insulated, and isolated from the risks of life - and if we fail, our government stands ready with Bandaids of every size." "One famous movie executive who shall remain nameless, exposed himself to me in his office. `Mr X,` I said, `I thought you were a producer not an exhibitor`." And a funny one, just for Rolley: "I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph."

Jason Taylor

Not that Shirley Temple.

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