Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Topic: William Strunk Jr.

Question: We’ve all heard about Strunk and White’s book on style. And we all know about EB White. But who was William Strunk, Jr.?

Answer: “The details are sparse: born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Strunk received his PhD from Cornell University in 1896. He taught at Cornell for the next forty-six years, during which time he published, locally, two brief monographs—The Elements of Style in 1918, and, in 1922, a sixty-one page pedagogical reference book on English meter. He edited a few literary volumes including John Dryden’s Essays on the Drama, in the introduction to which Strunk somewhat gratuitously faulted Milton for the ‘inordinate length of his sentences.’ (Dryden, the clear winner of the comparative brevity test). He published a few papers from conferences in the proceedings. Aside from a smattering of literature classes, Strunk taught a heavy rotation of composition and journalism courses.” P. 23.

Comment: The author of the article from which this quote was taken, concludes that “Strunk , in other words, was deadwood.” FYI. RayS.

Title: “The Fighting Style: Reading the Unabomber’s Strunk and White.” C Prendergast. College English (September 2009), 10-28.

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