The Elements of Style Paperback – January 1, 2006
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- Paperback : 52 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1607960001
- ISBN-13 : 978-1607960003
- Item Weight : 5.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.12 x 9 inches
- Publisher : BN Publishing (January 1, 2006)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #3,636,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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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 ).
If you're looking for the writing style guide that is in common use, The Elements of Style (4th Edition) , by William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White is the correct version, the one that Time Magazine listed as "one of the 100 best and most influential books written in English since 1923" in their August 30, 2011 issue.
I made the mistake of ordering this paperback edition a few years ago when I was in a rush and ordered it along with another copy of author Stephen King's On Writing , as both are what some of us consider essentials for writers. Simply put, I should have read the details more carefully... mea culpa.
There are Kindle reissues of the 1918 edition, most notably THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE (UPDATED 2011 EDITION) The All-Time Bestselling Book on Writing English Newly Edited (Special 2011 Edition) The Elements of Style OVER 10 MILLION COPIES SOLD! [Revised ], which notes that it is newly revised and edited by Chris Hong, who is listed in the electronic flyleaf as a former editor at Harvard University, and bears a © 2011 The Elements of Style Press notation. This particular edition does have a slightly better layout on the Kindle, and the table of contents is well hyperlinked, but no mention is made of original author William Strunk, Jr., except for his name on the flyleaf.
Among the other Kindle editions are The Elements of Style (Original Edition) , with the quill on it's cover is basic, and it costs under a couple of dollars. But if you're going for basic, the The Elements of Style edition with its generic cover is a no-cost freebie. And there are other Kindle editions if you search.
The problem with these 1918 editions is that the writing style is dated. Original author Strunk had died in 1946, and in 1959, the publishers commissioned writer and author E. B. White, well known for his Charlotte's Web , that classic for children, to revise the 41-year-old text. This was fitting as Strunk had been one of White's professors at Cornell. White's rework of the book was extremely well received, and further editions of the work followed in 1972, 1979, and 1999. White's expansion and modernization of Strunk's original became informally known as Strunk & White. As to whether it's considered a valid part of a writer's bookshelf, more than ten million copies of the three editions of Strunk & White have been sold.
The history of this writing manual can be found in Mark Garvey's Stylized: A Slightly Obsessive History of Strunk & White's The Elements of Style , which was published in 2009, an excellent book in its own right.
So if you're looking for the real Strunk & White, The Elements of Style (4th Edition) , by William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White, is one you want, and it's only available in paper editions, except for the rare The Elements of Style: 50th Anniversary Edition , which is now a collectable. Otherwise, you may enjoy one of the Kindle editions listed here, but think of them more as an interesting background than as contemporary writing style references.
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.