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Style: An Anti-Textbook [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   212
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 5" Height: 8"
Weight:   0.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 1, 2007
Publisher   Paul Dry Books
ISBN  1589880323  
EAN  9781589880320  

Availability  2 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 22, 2016 12:24.
Usually ships within one to two business days from Commerce GA.
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Item Description...

"A necessary manual for those interested in the perpetuation, and the possibilities, of good English prose."-Harper's Magazine

"[Lanham's] style is notable for its audacity, liveliness, and grace."-The Times Literary Supplement

"The most applicably provocative book on the subject of prose style available. Imperative reading for all teachers and students of writing."-Choice

This humorous and accessible classic on style calls for the return of wordplay and delight to writing instruction. Richard Lanham argues that many tomes on writing, with their trio of platitudes-clarity, plainness, sincerity-lie "upon the spirit like wet cardboard."

People seldom write to be clear. They have designs on their fellow men. Pure prose is as rare as pure virtue, and for the same reasons. . . . The Books [Lanham's term for misguided composition textbooks], written for a man and world yet unfallen, depict a ludicrous process like this: "I have an idea. I want to present this gift to my fellow man. I fix this thought clearly in mind. I follow the rules. Out comes a prose that gift-wraps thought in transparent paper." If this sounds like a travesty, it's because it is one. Yet it dominates prose instruction in America.

Richard A. Lanham is professor emeritus of English at the University of California, Los Angeles, and president of Rhetorica, Inc., a consulting and editorial services company. He is the author of numerous books on writing, including A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms, Analyzing Prose, The Electronic Word, and most recently, The Economics of Attention.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
"Pleasure flows from concepts" (52).  Dec 27, 2006
Lanham, the true hedonist, even epicure, when it comes to prose (and probably other things), understands that the root of all art, all human expression, is based on pleasure, and he knows how pleasure is made through sequences of words. I love him for this. In writing--as in all art--we have to play with our raw materials, and, as Aristotle says, we play when we imitate, and then we learn things. Invoke the Sanskrit goddess of divine play, "Lila." Galumph, Galumph, Galumph! Lanham's got the groove, what else can be said?
Return to Rhetoric!  Mar 5, 2005
This book is brilliant. It's also quite funny. It's an argument for bringing back rhetoric, particularly the study of literary ornamentation, to transmute the leaden prose and confused thinking all around us nowadays. According to Lanham, preaching "scientific" notions of clarity won't cause students to write more clearly: it will only make matters worse. (Are you listening, Strunk & White?) We must turn the act of writing into an aesthetic game. Once we recover our sense of literary play, and not before then, our prose will improve. Some of the examples that Lanham uses are rather dated now--my goodness, how stale and silly all that hippie lingo sounds today!--but his advice is timeless.

Lanham occasionally overstates his case. This is often an effective pedagogical tactic. Although I think Lanham is mostly right about how to improve our prose, it's certainly possible to produce a gorgeous flow of words and still be a stranger to reason. (A little logic now and then is relished by the best of men.) I suppose there is a danger that some recalcitrant students will use Lanham's book as an excuse to avoid the hard work of thinking and writing clearly, just as some unimaginative grinds use Strunk & White's book to justify writing only the most ploddingly blunt and dessicated prose. Such are the hazards of pedagogy.
Counter-intuitive Masterpiece  Aug 1, 2003
Lanham, an expert on classical rhetoric, has written a witty, counter-intuitive work that argues, plausibly, that English teachers have erred in trying to instill clarity in their students' writings. What is needed, says Lanham, is to teach, not clarity, but delight--i.e., rhythm, euphony, word play, all the belletristic devices of classical rhetoric--before we can hope to see good writing in student compositions. Once students (and journalists and bureaucrats and everyone else) learn to enjoy writing as an aesthetic game, clarity will follow automatically. Teaching clarity divorced from delight is doomed to failure. Even if you don't agree with Lanham's argument, you will be thoroughly entertained and even usefully informed by his little essay.
Brilliant  Mar 25, 2001
Anyone interested in the teaching of prose must hunt down a copy. This is Lanham's most eloquent and persuasive work.

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