- Paperback: 56 pages
- Publisher: Coyote Canyon Press; Original edition (September 28, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0979660742
- ISBN-13: 978-0979660740
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2,835 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Elements of Style: The Original Edition Original Edition
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About the Author
William Strunk, Jr. (1869-1946) was professor of English at Cornell University. He wrote The Elements of Style back in 1918. He attended meetings of The Manuscript Club, which was "an informal Saturday-night gathering of students and professors interested in writing." There he met E.B. White, who would later revise and expand The Elements of Style and propel it to bestseller status. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top customer reviews
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Back when I worked for a newspaper, one of my editors was trying to get a review of mine on a particular page, which meant he needed to edit a little bit out ... he came back and told me - I couldn't edit your review. Every word was essential. - YES. Thank you, Strunk & White.
I purchased a used copy of this book as part of a graduation gift for my 18 year old nephew who recently sent me an e mail that shocked me since he is an honor student at his high school. For someone so bright his writing skills have much to be desired, no doubt in part due to extensive use of text messaging amongst teens (and some adults) these days. Though he's majoring in physics he will still have to take basic general education courses which will involve some degree of composition. He'll probably thank me after he gets the first C in his life in English 101.
It's also a great "gift" to give college writers who know how to write for the web, but also at least understand basic rules of writing!
And what a celebration it is!
The first thing noticed is how familiar the original text is. The same outline format, the same structure, the same sage (and somewhat whimsical) advice that is in the current (4th) edition is there in the first--in all its unvarnished glory.
That is a glowing testament both to Mr. Strunk's genius and enduring power. Dr. Boyd K. Packer noted, "Refined substance combined with brevity are very difficult indeed to achieve." And Strunk was up to the task. Consider other style- and writing- guides, their quiddities and quillets, their hair-splitting and niggling, with the resulting volume. Then flip through this 1st edition, which maxes out at 52 pages. You see why this book is so popular.
And why it is so useful.
Even so, there are noticeable differences between the 1st and 4th editions. The first is the accruals to the text. The 3rd edition included an index by Lawrence W. Mazzeno; the fourth had glossary by Robert DiYanni. Both of these are welcome helps.
But some of the other accruals are not so helpful. White's introduction is helpful in explaining the whys and wherefores of "The Little Book," and about the man William Strunk, Jr. Roger Angell's foreword, thought interesting, is more for a book on motivating writers, such as "Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity" by Ray Bradbury. And Charles Osgood's afterword (really a testimonial) does not add anything to the text. Again, it does have a place *somewhere*, but not necessarily in this book.
As to White's revision of Strunk's text, almost all of the changes are needed. The spelling and exercise sections were excised and have not been missed."An Approach to Style," White's biggest inclusion, is helpful to floundering wordsmiths. And his philosophical discussion of what exactly is good writing spurs thought and discussion.
Yet, there is one exception. One section should have been left intact, "Section II: Elementary Principles of Composition." White kept most of Strunk's ideas, but excised the sections on outlining, and the paragraphs that were diagrammed. This is a pity, since the outline is a writer's crucial tool.
Ayn Rand ("Atlas Shrugged") celebrated outlining. She asserts, "No beginner should write without an outline. If I could enforce this as an absolute, I would. ... One reason for the dreadful articles in our media is that they are written without outlines, and thus fall apart structurally" ("The Art of Nonfiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers," Ch. 5).
So it is worth the price and than bother to track this edition down just for Strunk's comments on outlining. Everything else a writer would need is found in the current edition--suggestions, clarifications, and Strunkian motivation and celebration:
"Vigorous writing is concise ..."
NOTE: Since the 1st edition has passed into the public domain, Amazon.com has been bombarded with various reprint editions. ISBN: 978-9562916462 was used in this review. It is a photographic reprint of the original book. This adds to the excitement of reading, since we see the text as E. B. White--and even Strunk himself--used 100 years ago at Cornell. Other editions have reset type and text, and are easier on the eye. I prefer the reprint editions. The text tastes of authentic history.
And, of course, the current edition, either hardback (The Elements of Style (4th Edition)) or softback (The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition).
The Elements of Style is not exactly a development or coding book but a book on writing. To be a great developer you need to communicate clearly, simply and directly. Strong writing skills are essential to success. The book is just 100 pages long and you can read it in one evening. Re-read it every couple of months for full effect.
I first heard about this book in 2006 or so when I got serious about becoming a great writer, started blogging and wanted to improve my communication skills. It's the most cited book and I gave in and bought it. It's really good because you can read it in a few hours and learn a lot. I follow many of the rules and guidelines in this book. I used this book heavily when writing my own book Perl One Liners (http://www.amazon.com/dp/15932752). My book has been a nice success selling thousands of copies. All thanks to The Elements of Style.