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The Reader Over Your Shoulder: A Handbook for Writers of English Prose (1943)

di Robert Graves, Alan Hodge

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283471,036 (3.97)2
"First published in 1947, The Reader Over Your Shoulder remains required reading for anyone who wants to write more clearly and artfully. Editor Alan Hodge and I, Claudius author Robert Graves enjoin the writer to write as if "a crowd of his prospective readers. [were] looking over his shoulder," anticipating possible questions and criticism. They identify the most common blunders writers make and lay out forty-one principles--twenty-five dealing with clarity of statement, sixteen with grace of expression--while showing us how to avoid them. Their insights are as fresh and their examples as entertaining seventy years later as they address such topics as "The Use and Abuse of Official English" and "Where Is Good English to Be Found?" In print again for the first time in decades, this lost gem is sure to take its rightful place alongside The Chicago Manual of Style and Strunk and White's Elements of Style as an indispensable resource for writers of English prose"--… (altro)
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Mostra 4 di 4
In late October 1939, Robert Graves wrote to Alan Hodge: “I have begun a new book, about English.” Graves and Hodge had recently completed a social history of the between-wars period called The Long Week-End. Now they embarked on this new project, “a handbook for writers of English Prose,” to be called The Reader Over Your Shoulder.

This is a hardcore book with a morsel of tersely written humor thrown in, and adequate piss-taking of the self to make any reader realise that, yes, this is the real shit, y’all. This book makes for a great companion to Strunk/White, not to mention the prose of Arthur Conan Doyle and Graham Greene – two of my favourite writers, of whom the latter gets a bashing.

The first parts of the book contain guidelines and principles on writing of English prose, with plenty of tips and critique concrete enough for any interest in language and the writing of prose to sate all, I believe. The last two thirds of the book are modern examples – mind you, from when the book was written, in England, in the middle of the Second World War – of how brilliant writers succumb to bad grammar, torpid use of doublets, far too complex sentences, and simply using words that are too hard to understand.

Even though the book is written with a fair amount of direct and indirect racism and sexism, it’s deeply meaningful, especially as one considers how much one gains per sentence in the book. In fairness, the last time I read advice this well written, I picked up what is broadly loved as The Book on technical writing. Reading this one is like listening to Glenn Gould playing piano; over all, and foremost, it’s technically brilliant, but deep in the mix, there’s style.

All in all, an excellent chop of English. I give it 4/5.

To finish, remember that self-insight is the best way to understand others. ( )
  pivic | Mar 23, 2020 |
This book covers much the same territory as Strunk and White's Elements of Style, and I like it better. Each "principle of clear statement" is lavishly illustrated by bad prose, mostly from British non-fiction writers from the middle of the 20th century. Many of the examples include an explanation of how the writer got themselves into trouble and a re-write that corrects the problem. Graves and Hodge insist that you are writing for a reader whose understanding should be your most important goal, and show you how to keep that goal in mind. ( )
1 vota aulsmith | Jul 17, 2010 |
I love language books and books about words, and I love Robert Graves. However....after the first couple of chapters which present some interesting history of English and its qualities versus other languages, this book sinks into the most nit-picky uninteresting analysis of the use of prose that I have ever read. Just the opposite of the clarity you find in Strunk and White's The Elements of Style. From the other ratings this book has received, I may be in the minority here, but I certainly wanted to like this book. It had to work really really hard to arouse such a negative reaction in me. This one definitely goes on the giveaway list. ( )
  datrappert | May 31, 2010 |
An excellent guide to writing good English prose.
  Fledgist | Nov 24, 2007 |
Mostra 4 di 4
The Reader Over Your Shoulder is a call for order. The authors have not troubled to diagnose the ills of the moribund; they have rather pointed out hints of the frightful disease in the superficially robust, and have chosen for their case-histories the athletes and champions. These case-histories, which they call 'Examinations and Fair Copies', occupy rather more than half the book and are the more stimulating part. The 200 pages which form a preface to them comprise a history of English language and a statement of the principles of good writing.

The first section might with profit be omitted. That kind of thing is still taught, I believe, between periods of'citizenship' and 'dietetics' at all but the most experimental schools. The chapters on the principles of good writing - clarity and grace - are worth close attention; much is stated as axiomatic which is, in fact, highly speculative. I found myself in frequent disagreement, but this is no place to open a controversy on jots and tittles. The reviewer does his duty by telling the reader why a book is likely to be of use to him. In this case few people can afford to disregard the authors' warnings, and the fact of its stirring the mind to consider questions too long disregarded is itself immensely valuable even where the solutions are dubious.
aggiunto da SnootyBaronet | modificaTablet, Evelyn Waugh (Jul 3, 1943)
 

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Nome dell'autoreRuoloTipo di autoreOpera?Stato
Robert Gravesautore primariotutte le edizionicalcolato
Hodge, Alanautore principaletutte le edizioniconfermato
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To Jenny Nicholson
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INTRODUCTION This is the best book on writing ever published.
The most ancient European languages—those that have longest avoided infiltration by other languages—are the most complicated in their grammar and syntax.
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English does not run on its own rails, like French, with a simply managed mechanism of knobs and levers, so that any army officer or provincial mayor can always, at a minute’s notice, glide into a graceful speech in celebration of any local or national event, however unexpected. The fact is that English has altogether too many resources for the ordinary person, and nobody holds it against him if he speaks or writes badly.
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(Click per vedere. Attenzione: può contenere anticipazioni.)
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"First published in 1947, The Reader Over Your Shoulder remains required reading for anyone who wants to write more clearly and artfully. Editor Alan Hodge and I, Claudius author Robert Graves enjoin the writer to write as if "a crowd of his prospective readers. [were] looking over his shoulder," anticipating possible questions and criticism. They identify the most common blunders writers make and lay out forty-one principles--twenty-five dealing with clarity of statement, sixteen with grace of expression--while showing us how to avoid them. Their insights are as fresh and their examples as entertaining seventy years later as they address such topics as "The Use and Abuse of Official English" and "Where Is Good English to Be Found?" In print again for the first time in decades, this lost gem is sure to take its rightful place alongside The Chicago Manual of Style and Strunk and White's Elements of Style as an indispensable resource for writers of English prose"--

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