New York, NY (PRWEB) February 16, 2009
Fifty years after first making its mark as the definitive guide to writing style and usage, Strunk and White's The Elements of Style is now available in an anniversary edition from Longman Publishers, an imprint of Pearson.
The best-known and best-selling book about writing ever published, more than 10 million copies of The Elements of Style have been sold since its first publication in 1959. The original Boston Globe review, quoted in the front of the commemorative edition, still holds true today: "No book in shorter space, with fewer words, will help any writer more than this persistent little volume."
In 1957, E.B. White rediscovered the brief guide to clear English writing style that had been self-published by William Strunk, Jr., a favorite writing teacher during White's undergraduate years at Cornell University. White, an acclaimed editorialist and essayist at the New Yorker and the author of Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little, expressed his admiration in a New Yorker article. When an editor at Macmillan persuaded White to revise and expand Professor Strunk's 43-page book, that essay served as its introduction, and the book often known as "Strunk and White" was born. White later revised the book twice, in 1972 and 1979, and a fourth edition appeared in 2000 with a foreword by White's stepson, writer Roger Angell.
The Elements of Style 50th anniversary edition is a black leather-bound, gold-embossed reprint of the fourth edition. New commemorative material includes a publisher's note outlining the book's publishing history, and "fifty years of acclaim" from leading literary figures past and present, including Dorothy Parker, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Jim Lehrer, Ann Patchett, Richard Ford, Robert Pinsky, Dan Rather, Jonathan Lethem, Julia Alvarez, Roy Blount, Jr., Thomas Mallon and David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker.
The Elements of Style has influenced generations of writers, and indeed may be more relevant than ever in today's world of blogs, wikis and other online communication and expression. As E.B. White said in his introduction: "... it still seems to maintain its original poise, standing in a drafty time, erect, resolute and assured."
The official 50th anniversary of The Elements of Style is April 16, 2009, and an event to celebrate the occasion will be held in New York City with a panel of writers and journalists discussing the power of the "little book," featuring acclaimed writers Roger Rosenblatt, Roy Blount Jr. and Barbara Wallraff, columnist for The Atlantic. In addition, the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections at Cornell University, keepers of the papers of E.B. White, will host an exhibit in Olin Library to coincide with the anniversary. Materials include White's typewriter, handwritten notes, photographs and more.
"Not until I started teaching writing and I reread The Elements of Style did I realize that most everything I would be teaching young writers, and everything I would be learning myself as a writer, was contained between the covers of this slim, elegant, wise little book," said Julia Alvarez, author of How the Garc`Girls Lost their Accents and In the Time of Butterflies.
"The Elements of Style never seems to go out of date," said David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker. "Its counsel is sound and funny, wise and unpretentious. And while its precepts are a foundation of direct communication, Strunk and White do not insist on a way of writing beyond clear expression. The rest is up to the imagination, the intelligence within."
About the Authors:
E. B. White, one of America's most influential essayists, is best remembered for his work at the New Yorker magazine. He is also the author of the beloved children's classics Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web, and the revised edition of William Strunk Jr.'s The Elements of Style. A graduate of Cornell University, White was the recipient of numerous prizes and awards, including the Gold Medal for Essays and Criticism from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal for his children's books, and the National Medal for Literature. In 1973, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters and in 1978 he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize special citation for his body of work. He died in 1985, in North Brooklin, Maine.
William Strunk Jr. was Professor of English at Cornell University and is best known as the author of the first edition of The Elements of Style. Strunk earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Cincinnati, and his Ph.D. at Cornell University. He died in 1946.
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Fifty Years of Acclaim for The Elements of Style
"I first read The Elements of Style during the summer before I went off to Exeter, and I still direct my students at Harvard to their definition about the difference between 'that' and 'which.' It is the Bible for good, clear writing."
--Henry Louis Gates Jr.
"For writers of all kinds and sizes the world begins and ends with Strunk and White's Elements of Style. Only something to actually write about trumps the list of what is required to put words together in some kind of coherent way. I treasure its presence in my life and salute its fifty years of glory and accomplishment."
"The Elements of Style remains an unwavering beacon of light in these grammatically troubled times. I would be lost without it."
"To the extent I know how to write clearly at all, I probably taught myself while I was teaching others--seventh graders, in Flint, Michigan, in 1967. I taught them with a copy of Strunk & White lying in full view on my desk, sort of in the way the Gideons leave Bibles in cheap hotel rooms, as a way of saying to the hapless inhabitant: 'In case your reckless ways should strand you here, there's help.' S&W doesn't really teach you how to write, it just tantalizingly reminds you that there's an orderly way to go about it, that clarity's ever your ideal, but--really--it's all going to be up to you."
"The Elements of Style never seems to go out of date. Its counsel is sound and funny, wise and unpretentious. And while its precepts are a foundation of direct communication, Strunk and White do not insist on a way of writing beyond clear expression. The rest is up to the imagination, the intelligence
--David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker
"It's the toughness--the irreverence and implicit laughter--that attracted me to the little book when I was seventeen. I fell in love with Strunk & White's loathing for cant and bloviation, the ruthless cutting of crap, jargon, and extra words. For me, that skeptical directness included a tacit permission by
The Elements of Style to break its rules on occasion: an alloy of generosity in the blade, a grace I still admire and still learn from."
"In the quest for clarity, one can have no better guides than Strunk and White. For me, their book has been invaluable and remains essential."
"Eschew surplusage! A perfect book."
"Not until I started teaching writing and I reread The Elements of Style did I realize that most everything I would be teaching young writers, and everything I would be learning myself as a writer, was contained between the covers of this slim, elegant, wise little book."
"Strunk and White seared their way into my brain long ago, and I benefit from them daily."
--Steven J. Dubner, coauthor of Freakonomics
"Since high school, I have kept a copy of this book handy. That should be unnecessary. I should, by now, have fully internalized The Elements of Style. But sometimes I get entangled in a paragraph that refuses to be 'clear, brief, bold.' I dip back into The Elements of Style and am refreshed. After Scott Simon interviewed me on NPR about whether the word 'e-mail' needs a hyphen (yes, it does), some listeners, including friends of mine, wondered why I had answered in the affirmative when asked, in passing, 'Are you a drunken white man?' Those listeners misheard. 'Strunk and White man' was
what Scott said."
--Roy Blount Jr.
"Strunk & White--writing's good-natured law firm--still contains enough sparkling good sense to clean up the whole bloviating blogosphere."
"I used Strunk--that's what we called it, Strunk--as a student at Berkeley fifty years ago. I didn't know that it was new, and that we were the first generation to be educated in The Elements of Style. I got a firm foundation in the English language, learned to write basically, and could depict the realistic world. Then I was able to become an impressionist and expressionist."
--Maxine Hong Kingston
"Strunk and White's gigantic little book must be the most readable advice on writing ever written. Side by side with Roget, Shakespeare, the Bible, and a dictionary, it's an essential for every writer's shelf."
--X. J. Kennedy
"With what joy I welcome the fiftieth anniversary of The Elements of Style. I am greatly indebted to this book for the invaluable help it has given me all these years."
"Elegant, droll, and perfectly proportioned, and like your favorite aunt, strict but affectionate. And, like your favorite aunt, full of optimism: You can, and will, be a better writer! There has never been a better, briefer, or more loved book about the art and craft of communicating."
"This book is an essential tool. It has been of great use to me and is probably responsible for my best writing. I owe my success to Strunk and White; only the mistakes are mine."
--Ben Affleck, in O, the Oprah Magazine
"This book is a wonderful example of teaching by example. Not only does it recommend clear and concise writing, it demonstrates it. Written in the style of a friend offering help, it is a godsend to anyone wanting to put words on paper. Thank you, Messieurs Strunk and White. And Happy Anniversary, Elements of Style."
--S. E. Hinton
"When I began to have . . . I wouldn't say arguments but conversations in my mind with Strunk and White about a few of their rules and principles, I knew I was coming into my own. If only they were still here to talk things over! No doubt their side of the exchange would be kindly put, well-informed, and
wise. They'd probably help me with my side of it. What more could one want from writers reaching out to help other writers?"
--Barbara Wallraff, language columnist for The Atlantic
"I don't believe there is a serious writer alive who doesn't have a worn copy of 'Strunk & White' on his or her bookshelf."
--Mignon Fogarty, author of Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
"This little book has inspired hundreds of thousands of people to write better--partly by precept and partly by example. It continues to influence more writers than any other. It's a force for good in the world."
--Bryan A. Garner, author of Garner's Modern American Usage
"I can think of no better guide to good writing, and I always think of this little classic with a warm heart. More importantly, I revisit its pages often. It's the one essential book on writing."
--Jay Parini, author of Why Poetry Matters
"Clarity and simplicity have always been the goals, and this book shows the way. It has always been a lighthouse in the dark and stormy night of student prose, of all of our prose."
"The only rules you are ever going to get from me are all in Strunk and White."
--Ursula K. Le Guin, from Steering the Craft
"[The Elements of Style is] a book to which I return from time to time, the way I periodically reread Shakespeare. I always discover something new, settle a question that has been puzzling me, or learn a principle of usage that I have been pretending to know, a pretense that has resulted in inconsistency and in the sort of errors from which I can only pray some saintly copy editor will save me."
--Francine Prose, from Reading Like a Writer
". . . still a little book, small enough and important enough to carry in your pocket, as I carry mine."
"Almost every writer has a Strunk and White story. One journalism professor spends the first two weeks of school forcing his students to memorize the book. A top editor at a major paper buys copies at yard sales to distribute to her writers and interns. It has even caused love affairs. . . . Could its greatness be any more clear?"
--Jesse Sheidlower, American editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, on NPR
"If the English language is one of the finest homes ever devised for the human spirit, Elements is the best guided house tour we've got."
--David Gelernter, The Wall Street Journal
" . . . Should be the daily companion of anyone who writes for a living and, for that matter, anyone who writes at all."
--Jonathan Yardley, Greensboro (NC) Daily News
"No book in shorter space, with fewer words, will help any writer more than this persistent little volume."
--Herbert A. Kenny, The Boston Globe
"Buy it, study it, enjoy it. It's as timeless as a book can be in our age of volubility."
--Charles Poore, The New York Times
"White is one of the best stylists and most lucid minds in this country. What he says and his way of saying it are equally rewarding."
--Edmund Fuller, The Wall Street Journal
"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."
--Dorothy Parker, Esquire