Clear and Simple as the Truth: Writing Classic Prose - Second Edition

Clear and Simple as the Truth: Writing Classic Prose - Second Edition

by Francis-Noël Thomas, Mark Turner

NOOK BookSecond (eBook - Second)

$19.88 $28.95 Save 31% Current price is $19.88, Original price is $28.95. You Save 31%.

Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
WANT A NOOK?  Explore Now


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,, 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400838547
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 02/28/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
File size: 342 KB

About the Author

Francis-Nöel Thomas is professor emeritus of humanities at Truman College, City Colleges of Chicago. Mark Turner is Institute Professor and professor of cognitive science at Case Western Reserve University.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 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
Truth 24
Presentation 32
Scene 37
Cast 45
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
Introduction 189
Fundamentals: Talk First 189
Fundamentals: Write Second 212
Advanced Writing 215
Conclusion 227
Chapter Four: Further Readings in Classic Prose 229
Notes 239
Index 253

What People are Saying About This

David Lee Rubin

Thanks to Thomas and Turner, the cognitive revolution has finally caught up with the analysis of style—brilliantly, learnedly, and, above all, readably.
David Lee Rubin, University of Virginia

Richard Preston

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"

Frederick Crews

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

Claude Rawson

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

From the Publisher

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

Customer Reviews

Clear and Simple as the Truth: Writing Classic Prose (Second Edition) 0 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 0 reviews.