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A pithy classic; omit needless words,
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Elements of Style (Taschenbuch)
In 1918, as mandatory reading for the fall semester of his English 8 course at Cornell University, Professor William Strunk Jr. copyrighted and privately published in Ithaca, N.Y., a textbook called The Elements of Style. In 1919 Strunk had The Elements reprinted for the spring and fall semesters of that year's course - in which E.B. White was a pupil.
Then in 1957 - allowing for the professor's death on 26 Sept. 1946 - one H.A. Stevenson, editor of the Cornell Alumni News and a long-time friend of the recipient, filched from the Cornell Library one of its two remaining copies of The Elements and mailed it to a well-known friend of Strunk's, Elwyn Brooks White, who had graduated from Cornell in 1921. An essayist for the New Yorker, White, on seeing the book again, was inspired to write an affectionate piece about the late professor ("A Letter from the East," 27 July); the article was spotted by one J.G. Case, editor at The Macmillan Company, who wrote White asking whether he would be interested in reviving the book. The original proposition was simply to use White's essay as an introduction, but the project expanded and White ended up revising (for the college market and the general trade) the text as well. At this time, the book was unheard of outside the academic world.
Thus was born The Elements of Style, with Revisions, an Introduction, and a New Chapter on Writing by E.B. White (1959). A scan through White's letters (I used Letters of E.B. White, edited by Dorothy Lobrano Guth, (C) 1976) reveals that J.G. Case, the Macmillan editor, had commissioned three or four grammarians well versed in the textbook field to submit suggestions to White, who, distressed, retorted, "[i]f the White-Strunk opus has any virtue, any hope of circulation, it lies in our keeping its edges sharp and clear, not in rounding them off cleverly. . . .Any attempt to tamper with this prickly design will get nobody nowhere fast" (Letter to J.G. Case, 17 Dec. 1958).
The Elements of Style, as the Chicago Manual of Style says, is a pithy "classic that offers excellent practical advice on achieving a clear and graceful expository style." It is now in its fourth edition, sans White, who died 1 Oct. 1985, and published with a gray cover in both hardcover and paperback, by Allyn and Bacon (who also published a third edition and has apparently superceded Macmillan as the de facto publisher. For this "modestly updated" publication, Roger Angell, E.B. White's stepson and also a New Yorker staff writer, wrote the foreword; Charles Osgood, who also made a V.H.S. called The Elements of Style Video, wrote the afterward; and a fellow named Robert DiYanni prepared a glossary.
"Style," White tells us in a magnificent passage of his own, "takes its final shape more from attitudes of mind than from principles of composition, for as an elderly practitioner once remarked, 'Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.' This moral observation would have no place in a rulebook were it not that style is the writer, and therefore what a man is, rather than what he knows, will at last determine his style." No writer (and we are all writers of one sort or another, remember) who is still willing to learn, who wants to grow in clarity, precision and grace, can let it go at that, though. There is much to be learned in this book. There are forgotten lessons to be remembered. They may be cast aside for good reasons - but always with an element of peril.