The Elements of Style Essay

William Strunk Jr.
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No American writing guide is more revered than the 5-ounce Strunk & White, a.k.a. The Elements of Style (Allyn & Bacon). "Timeless," "the best book of its kind we have," gush its idolaters. Yet, for all its glory, the tiny-shouldered book is also a magnet for bashers.

It is geriatric. First appearing in 1918, it underwent its fourth resuscitation in 2000. It is small and vulnerable—as pokable as the Pillsbury Doughboy for determined critics. And the coddling it enjoys from the writing establishment makes rebel blood boil. In a 1989 bashing, one alternative-press writer dubbed White "a cranky old man."

Who is correct? For every basher who attacks Elements as a meager, authoritarian fossil, a corps of literati hails its grace, concision and moral sense. In a review of the fourth edition, conservative columnist Andrew Ferguson called it "a book about life—about the value of custom, the...

(read more from the Critical Essay #5 section)

This section contains 168 words
(approx. 1 page at 400 words per page)
Buy The Elements of Style Study Guide
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Nonfiction Classics for Students
The Elements of Style from Nonfiction Classics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.