For more than a decade, Clear and Simple as the Truth has guided readers to consider style not as an elegant accessory of effective prose but as its very heart. Francis-Noël Thomas and Mark Turner present writing as an intellectual activity, not a passive application of verbal skills. In classic style, the motive is truth, the purpose is presentation, the reader and writer are intellectual equals, and the occasion is informal. This general style of presentation is at home everywhere, from business memos to personal letters and from magazine articles to student essays. Everyone talks about style, but no one explains it. The authors of this book do; and in doing so, they provoke the reader to consider style, not as an elegant accessory of effective prose, but as its very heart.
At a time when writing skills have virtually disappeared, what can be done? If only people learned the principles of verbal correctness, the essential rules, wouldn't good prose simply fall into place? Thomas and Turner say no. Attending to rules of grammar, sense, and sentence structure will no more lead to effective prose than knowing the mechanics of a golf swing will lead to a hole-in-one. Furthermore, ten-step programs to better writing exacerbate the problem by failing to recognize, as Thomas and Turner point out, that there are many styles with different standards.
The book is divided into four parts. The first, "Principles of Classic Style," defines the style and contrasts it with a number of others. "The Museum" is a guided tour through examples of writing, both exquisite and execrable. "The Studio," new to this edition, presents a series of structured exercises. Finally, "Further Readings in Classic Prose" offers a list of additional examples drawn from a range of times, places, and subjects. A companion website, classicprose.com, offers supplementary examples, exhibits, and commentary, and features a selection of pieces written by students in courses that used Clear and Simple as the Truth as a textbook.
|Publisher:||Princeton University Press|
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About the Author
Table of ContentsAcknowledgments vii
Clear and Simple as the Truth 1
Chapter One: Principles of Classic Style 5
The Concept of Style 7
Recognizing Classic Style 12
The Elements of Style 17
The Classic Stand on the Elements of Style 24
Thought and Language 57
Other Stands, Other Styles 66
Trade Secrets 97
Envoi: Style Is Not Etiquette 10
Chapter Two: The Museum 107
Chapter Three: The Studio 187
Fundamentals: Talk First 189
Fundamentals: Write Second 212
Advanced Writing 215
Chapter Four: Further Readings in Classic Prose 229
What People are Saying About This
Thanks to Thomas and Turner, the cognitive revolution has finally caught up with the analysis of stylebrilliantly, learnedly, and, above all, readably.
David Lee Rubin, University of Virginia
The authors give one of the best discussions of style that I have ever read. Thomas and Turner juxtapose conventionally thought of as disparate, and thereby suggest possible new avenues of interpretation for critics of individual authors. Clear and Simple as the Truth occupies a niche of its own, as a kind of hybrid between books on writing such as The Elements of Style and The Reader over Your Shoulder, and more theoretical studies of representation, such as Mimesis.
Richard Preston, author of "American Steel"
Clear and Simple as the Truth holds the promise of raising the level of the nation's prose.... The book is full of cogency and insight.
Could well be the most important discussion of style since the great classical rhetoricians.
Wayne C. Booth, University of Chicago
A work of great intellectual elegance and power. I have read it with a lot of pleasure, admiring the wisdom and economy of its reflections and the extraordinary range of its citations.
Claude Rawson, Yale University
Praise for the first edition: One of the best discussions of style that I have recently read."Richard Preston, author of The Hot Zone
A treatment of the classic style that manifests the virtues of the writing it propounds, expounds, and exemplifies in a wealth of fascinating passages, brilliantly analyzed.
M. H. Abrams, Cornell University