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The Elements of Style Paperback – October 17, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

William Strunk Jr. (1 July 1869 26 September 1946) was a professor of English at Cornell University and author of the The Elements of Style (1918), which, after being revised and enlarged by his former student E. B. White, became a highly influential guide to English usage during the late 20th century.

Strunk was born and reared in Cincinnati, Ohio, the eldest of four surviving children of William and Ella Garretson Strunk. He earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Cincinnati in 1890 and a PhD at Cornell University in 1896. He spent the academic year 1898 99 at the Sorbonne and the Collège de France, where he studied morphology and philology.

Strunk first taught mathematics at Rose Polytechnical Institute in Terre Haute, Indiana in 1890 91. He then taught English at Cornell for 46 years, disdaining specialization and becoming expert in both classical and non-English literature. In 1922 he published English Metres, a study of poetic metrical form, and he compiled critical editions of Cynewulf's Juliana, several works of Dryden, James Fenimore Cooper's Last of the Mohicans, and several Shakespearean plays. Strunk was also active in a gathering known as the Manuscript Club., an "informal Saturday-night gathering of students and professors interested in writing," where he met Elwyn Brooks White.

In 1935 36, Strunk enjoyed serving as the literary consultant for the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film Romeo and Juliet (1936).

In 1918, Strunk privately published The Elements of Style for the use of his Cornell students, who gave it its nickname, "the little book." Strunk intended the guide "to lighten the task of instructor and student by concentrating attention...on a few essentials, the rules of usage and principles of composition most commonly violated. In 1935, Strunk and Edward A. Tenney revised and published the guide as The Elements and Practice of Composition (1935).

In his New Yorker column of July 27, 1957, E. B. White praised the "little book" as a "forty-three-page summation of the case for cleanliness, accuracy, and brevity in the use of English." Macmillan and Company then commissioned White to revise The Elements of Style for republication. White's expansion and modernization of the 1935 edition sold more than two million copies. Since 1959, total sales of three editions in four decades has exceeded ten million copies. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 52 pages
  • Publisher: Tribeca Books (October 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612931103
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612931104
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #336,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

191 of 199 people found the following review helpful By Judah on August 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a public domain version of an old 1919 copy of a grammar text by William Strunk Jr. It is not useful. Writing standards are different in 2011 compared with 1919.

"The Elements of Style (4th Edition)" by William Strunk (Author), E. B. White (Author), Roger Angell (Foreword) is what you want to buy.
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35 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Emma Jane on September 5, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This has been a standard in my bookshelf, actually on my bedside table, for many years. This new copy went to university with my grandson who is a freshman. I cannot say enough good things about this little book; neither can I tell you how many I have given to young (and older) students for use as they embark on high school or college writing. Strunk is the most concise and perfect help for writing that I have found.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By K. Kondo on July 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
This version appears to be the original text by Strunk only. The fourth edition is a much updated publication and features both Strunk and White as the authors.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Johnny B on March 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
This power packed literary guide is essential for anyone who wishes to write better. Whether you are in an English class or need to write something professionally, this is the guide book to show you how. I purchased this book for a college English course, and it has proved to be a valuable tool in furthering my written communication skills.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Brandon Simpson on July 28, 2007
Format: Paperback
This little book is considered classic and timeless by many professors and students. I find it very helpful. It inspired me to write my own book about English.

Brandon Simpson
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28 of 37 people found the following review helpful By J. Thew on November 20, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is not the Elements of Style 4th edition in paperback. Its a condensed version of it and should not be a paperback choice of the original hardcover. Will be returning it!
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Summary: I wouldn't suggest buying this book. You're better off Googling grammar rules as you get suspicious about your writing.

Pro: Good summary of rules, with examples. I think the world would be a better place if everyone followed some rules: e.g., commas for dependent clauses, clarity on a statement's subject.

Con: Some rules feel dated. They cover (1) rules that nobody breaks today or (2) wrong rules. An example of a wrong rule is suggesting that "We read a book, and trusting all of its rules, we made mistakes" is correct, while "We read a book and, trusting all of its rules, we made mistakes" is wrong (note comma's position). Language is a fluid organism; using an early-20th-century book today poses a risk to your style.

Suggestion: stick to this: [...] . When in doubt, Google it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Patrick on April 8, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I will not comment too much on the content of this book - I believe that there is already substantial evidence that the content is valuable and although some may say that it is common sense, I am amazed as to how many people and writers make the simple and basic mistakes that the book points out. I bought this book to write essays for graduate schools and the principles have already proven helpful and insightful.

A quick note on the physical aspects of the book - as another reviewer pointed it, the pages do look like they were photocopied and the font type looks old-fashioned. However, for a price point of $3, there is little to complain about and if you want a better looking book (with the same content), just search for the more expensive versions of this book on Amazon.

All in all, I would highly recommend this specific version of the book if all you are looking for is the solid writing principles that the book provides.
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