I’d better write this blog very carefully, omitting all needless words.
Today we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the release of The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White, affectionally shorthanded by its disciples as Strunk & White. In an age of chronic blogging, constant Facebook updating and compulsive Twittering, we need fewer words more than ever. No doubt Strunk and White have saved us from millions.
I still tell writers to follow the precepts set forth in the book. These are effectively fortified in many good books on writing, including one of my other favorites: “Simplify. Simplify. . . . Fighting clutter is like fighting weeds–the writer is always slightly behind.”
The publisher of Strunk & White, notes NPR, has marked the occasion with a deluxe edition, which includes praise for the book from writers over the years. A favorite comes from Dorothy Parker, who reviewed the guide for Esquire magazine, and wrote:
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.
6 thoughts on “Strunk and White at 50”
I love that quote but not so much Strunk & White. I do, however, agree with the principles therein.
Not everyone celebrates S&W. See http://dcspinks.wordpress.com/2009/04/14/happy-birthday-strunk-white-down-with-strunk-white/.
Yes, I read your piece–and that of your first commenter who seems to have gotten it just right.
“…fewer words more than ever.” Oooh, cool. Was that intentionally, or accidentally, clever?
If it was cool, then it was completely intentional. If it was lame, then an accident!
Hi, interesting post. I have been pondering this issue,so thanks for sharing. I’ll definitely be subscribing to your posts.
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