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Analyzing Prose (Scribner English Series) First Edition Edition

7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0023675607
ISBN-10: 0023675608
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Editorial Reviews


"Unlike most how-to books on essay writing, Lanham's leads the reader through an examination of different writers' texts, pinpointing stylistic devices one is not supposed to use if one aspires to effective communication. Recommended."" -Choice Magazine, Febraury 2004" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Richard Lanham is Professor Emeritus of English at UCLA, Los Angeles, USA --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Series: Scribner English Series
  • Hardcover: 255 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (March 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0023675608
  • ISBN-13: 978-0023675607
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #795,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard A. Lanham: Life and Work


I went to the Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., and to Yale University. After taking my A.B. degree in English from Yale, I served a two-year stint in the U.S.Army and then worked for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington before returning to Yale for my Ph.D. I began teaching at Dartmouth, moved to the English Department at UCLA in 1965, and remained there for the rest of my career.


My teaching life found its center in Chaucer, Shakespeare, and literary rhetoric from classical Greece to the present day. From my earliest days at Dartmouth, also, I took a keen interest in student writing. I taught composition courses both at Dartmouth and at UCLA, and in 1979 I started the UCLA Writing Programs. The Programs began with thirty full-time lecturers hired in a single year, and they developed a set of pioneering courses across the curriculum. Many of the lecturers in the Programs have gone on to distinguished teaching, administrative, and business careers, both at UCLA and elsewhere. I've told the story of this start-up adventure in a chapter of my Literacy and the Survival of Humanism.


Where did my books come from? My scholarly career began with the Yale Press publication of my Ph.D. dissertation (Sidney's Original Arcadia) on rhetorical language in an Elizabethan prose romance. In my teaching I found that I was often using the Latin and Greek terms for rhetorical figures, and that students needed a guide to these terms. I started with a two-page list and this led to a longer list and finally to A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms, which has been in print since 1967, in two editions, at the University of California Press. The book sets out the fundamental rules of formal rhetoric and has served many readers as an outline introduction to the subject.
From my interest in composition emerged a series of books and videos: Revising Prose, Revising Business Prose, The Revising Prose Video, The Revising Business Prose Video, Analyzing Prose, and Style: An Anti-Textbook.
From my literary teaching came: The Motives of Eloquence; Tristram Shandy: The Games of Pleasure; and a series of essays, Literacy and the Survival of Humanism, all of which explored the role of classical rhetoric in Western literature.
In the early 1980's, I became interested in how the written word was moving from the page to the computer screen, a transition I discussed in The Electronic Word. The volatility of the word on an electronic screen--its ability to move around, change shape, size, color, disappear and reappear, continually reach out to establish new connections--suggested different ways for writing to work, new ways that seemed to emerge spontaneously from an ever-changing medium.
This ever-changing electronic mixture led me to ponder spontaneous, emergent systems of order in other areas of life; biological evolution; its replication within computers--often called "artificial life"; problem-solving through computer-based evolution rather than propositional thinking; and, of course, the oldest of spontaneously evolving systems--markets. I pondered how classical rhetoric describes such a world in my The Economics of Attention, arguing that rhetoric supplied a fundamental economics for an information society such as ours. Published by the University of Chicago Press in 2006, it won the Media Ecology Association's Erving Goffman Award.

Visiting Appointments.

I have been an NEH Senior Fellow, a Senior Fellow in the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, Norman Freehling Visiting Professor at the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Michigan, the 1994 International Scholar at the George Eastman House in Rochester, N.Y., and, in 1995, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor at Tulane University. In 2001-02, as a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar, I lectured and met with students and faculty in two-day visits to nine U.S. college campuses

Recent assignments.

In 2010 I delivered the keynote address at the Council of Independent Colleges conference on how best to use the internet in undergraduate research. Also in 2010, I spoke at the Rochester Institute of Technology symposium on "The Future of Reading." And in March of 2012 I was a featured speaker at the Conference on College Composition and Communication.

Moonlight Job.

Since 1971, I have also acted as a literary consultant and expert witness in over sixty copyright cases in the television and motion picture business. I have worked on cases involving King Kong, Jaws, Shampoo, Earthquake, Star Wars, Superman, and many other films. My television credits in this line of endeavor include The A-Team and Falcon Crest. Most recently I acted as an expert witness in a case involving a PETA campaign.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Anonymouse on September 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I taught college writing classes for 17 years and have been an editor for a computer software company for nine. So far, Lanham's "Analyzing Prose" is the only completely reliable book about writing and language I have come across. It's not an easy book. As Lanham says, "We are simply not trained to look at the words on the page." And to read this book, you have to look at the words on the page. If you're up for the challenge, get this book. It won't be easy to find. It won't be cheap once you've found it. It won't be easy to read once you buy it. But as you realize how rewarding looking at words can be, really looking at them and not just through them, you will thank me over and over again for writing this review. And you will thank Richard Lanham over and over again for writing this splendid book.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Daniel D Ostlund on July 17, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a tremendous book that attempts to revive a now lost method for being deliberate about consuming and producing prose.

The couple of two-star reviews are missing the virtues of Analyzing Prose. This is not a rehash of Revising Prose at all. Revising Prose outlines the Paramedic Method, which is really major first aid for bloated dead-fish prose. He calls it the Paramedic Method for a reason.

Analyzing Prose is a practical extension of the arguments that Lanham develops in Style: An Anti-Textbook, which is also an amazing book. Analyzing Prose walks through various ways of classifying prose styles and as a result gives writers something to emulate and practice. Both of these books make the passionate plea to start to take real joy in words and language again, to reject the utilitarian and drab argument that says all prose must be clear, simple, and functional.

If you ever read a line of Shakespeare and marveled at his gorgeous and clever parallel constructions, and inversions; if you love the first few sentences of Lolita; if you noticed Abraham Lincoln's repetition at Gettysburg--"we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow..."--then you will certainly appreciate this book, and appreciate all those others even more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Mates on August 31, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A most difficult climb, as attention to detail is a must, and a cocktail of what looks like and is Greek confounds. However, chapter 9 rewards the climb, where a replacement for the pattern laid down by Aristotle is proposed, several tables that outline a broader and less judgmental classification for prose: not simply good or bad, factual or sophistry, but rather a range between dreaming, the ordinary, and drama, a range between lucid, ethical, and aesthetic, and how a writer or speaker or reader or listener may move between any of these, depending.

(There is a (brief) glossary of the Greek, and the author helpfully reminds the reader on occasion what the chiasmus and whatnot mean.)
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By Donna W. on February 11, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book was listed to be in "very good" condition. It was not! All of the corners were bent or crushed and the cover looked well used. The seller did offer to take it back but I t was too late for me to return it since I needed it for my class. They would not give me an adjustment in price.
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