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Book How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One


How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Stanley Fish(Author)

    Book details

New York Times Bestseller

Both deeper and more democratic than The Elements of Style” – Adam Haslett, Financial Times

“A guided tour through some of the most beautiful, arresting sentences in the English language.” – Slate

“Like a long periodic sentence, this book rumbles along, gathers steam, shifts gears, and packs a wallop.”
 —Roy Blount Jr.

In this entertaining and erudite New York Times bestseller, beloved professor Stanley Fish offers both sentence craft and sentence pleasure. Drawing on a wide range of  great writers, from Philip Roth to Antonin Scalia to Jane Austen, How to Write a Sentence is much more than a writing manual—it is a spirited love letter to the written word, and a key to understanding how great writing works.


“Both deeper and more democratic than The Elements of Style.” (Financial Times)“A guided tour through some of the most beautiful, arresting sentences in the English language.” (Slate)“[Fish] shares his connoisseurship of the elegant sentence.” (The New Yorker)“Stanley Fish just might be America’s most famous professor.” (BookPage)“How to Write a Sentence is a compendium of syntactic gems—light reading for geeks.” (New York magazine)“How to Write a Sentence isn’t merely a prescriptive guide to the craft of writing but a rich and layered exploration of language as an evolving cultural organism. It belongs not on the shelf of your home library but in your brain’s most deep-seated amphibian sensemaking underbelly.” (Maria Popova, Brain Pickings)“[Fish’s] approach is genially experiential—a lifelong reader’s engagement whose amatory enthusiasm is an attempt to overthrow Strunk & White’s infamous insistences on grammar by rote.” (New York Observer)“In this small feast of a book Stanley Fish displays his love of the English sentence. His connoisseurship is broad and deep, his examples are often breathtaking, and his analyses of how the masterpieces achieve their effects are acute and compelling.” (New Republic)“A sentence is, in John Donne’s words, ‘a little world made cunningly,’ writes Fish. He’ll teach you the art.” (People)“This splendid little volume describes how the shape of a sentence controls its meaning.” (Boston Globe)“Like a long periodic sentence, this book rumbles along, gathers steam, shifts gears, and packs a wallop.” (Roy Blount Jr.)“Language lovers will flock to this homage to great writing.” (Booklist)“Fish is a personable and insightful guide with wide-ranging erudition and a lack of pretension.” (National Post)“For both aspiring writer and eager reader, Fish’s insights into sentence construction and care are instructional, even inspirational.” (The Huffington Post)“If you love language you’ll find something interesting, if not fascinating, in [How to Write a Sentence].” (“[A] slender but potent volume. Fish, a distinguished law professor and literary theorist, is the anti-Strunk & White.” (The Globe and Mail)“You’d get your money’s worth from the quotations alone…if you give this book the attention it so clearly deserves, you will be well rewarded.” (Washington Times)“The fun comes from the examples cited throughout: John Updike, Jane Austen…all are cited throughout.” (Washington Post)“How to Write a Sentence is the first step on the journey to the Promised Land of good writing.” (Saudi Gazette)“How to Write a Sentence is a must read for aspiring writers and anyone who wants to deepen their appreciation of literature. If extraordinary sentences are like sports plays, Fish is the Vin Scully of great writing.” (Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein, authors of "They Say/I Say")“Coming up with all-or-nothing arguments is simply what Fish does; and, in a sense, one of his most important contributions to the study of literature is that temperament…Whether people like Fish or not, though, they tend to find him fascinating.” (The New Yorker)

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Book details

  • PDF | 176 pages
  • Stanley Fish(Author)
  • Harper (1 Feb. 2011)
  • English
  • 9
  • Languages

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Review Text

  • By writer christopher on 18 July 2017

    This is not a book for beginner writers, it is for those who can already write to a reasonable standard who wish to improve their writing. Fish concentrates on how longer sentences are constructed and he does this really well. By reading this book and reacting to his suggestions and practicing, I am becoming a better writer. For those looking for a quick fix, this is not a quick fix, one can't learn to play the piano to concert standard in a weekend. I enjoyed the book, it is an easy read and is exactly what I was looking for, something to teach me to write better - maybe the title would benefit from adding the word 'better'.

  • By Guest on 29 January 2013

    This is a good book if you are already good at english. It will teach you about the finer points of writing good sentences. It's definitely helped me look at sentences differently and I think I should be able to write better now. That said, it does get a bit rambly and the later chapters seemed to be tacked on just to fill out the book.

  • By GH on 7 April 2014

    I have to admit to finding this small book hard going. Stanley Fish doesn't worry too much about the rules of grammar and many of the sentences he chooses to analyse would be entire paragraphs if only their authors had punctuated correctly. He likes the verbose, and admires too much the arcane and archaic.He begins with the credible proposition that good sentence structure is independent of content, but goes on to revel in examples that, to my puny intellect, lack much discernible structure and seem meagre exemplars of the craft. Writing is communication, and if a sentence needs analysis to be appreciated, maybe it's not that good—a bit a like a flat joke that needs explaining.Perhaps I'm too stupid to appreciate the finesse of this book. Or, maybe I'm just too grounded to be wafted away on the breeze of highbrow self-indulgence. I read it, but I didn't especially enjoy it and I didn't feel I learned much. Sorry, but it's Strunk and White for me.

  • By Olly Buxton on 7 June 2011

    Now here is a review I'll have to edit carefully.Like a well composed sentence of which he would approve, Stanley Fish's "How to Write a Sentence and How to Read one" has a clear formal structure, and cleaves closely to it. But, also like one of Fish's preferred sentences, it nevertheless rambles on in an unchaperoned fashion: for a short book, it is easy to put down. For all its tight formal structure, it is not clear what Fish wants to achieve, if not simply to put the world to rights.Early on, Fish dismisses Strunk & White's classic The Elements of Style and of the sort of economical writing that volume encourages. He claims Strunk & White is only of any use to those who already know not just how to write, but what devilishly complicated things like adjectives and independent clauses are. But hold on: Are the parts of speech really that intimidating?Certainly no more intimidating than Fish's own vocabulary: to avoid them, Fish suggests the reader practice identifying the logical relationships that constitute (or are constituted by) sentences by picking four or five items from around the room and joining them with "a verb or a modal auxiliary"! The irony runs on: The back half of the book extols sentences, itself in sentences, that no-one without a passion for a well-placed subjunctive would have a hope of comprehending.All the same this is no technical manual. In his first half Fish airily proposes some formal sentence structures types and counsels the reader to practise them. There are just three, and they seem arbitrary: the "subordinating style", where descriptive clauses refine and further describe an initial proposition (often sentences with "which" or "that" in them - "the bed that you make is the one you have to lie in"); the "additive style", where each additional clause augments the content to preceding ones (so, "the fair breeze blew, the white foam flew, the furrow followed free"); and the "satyric" style, which doesn't seem to be a formal sentence structure at all, but Fish's own prescription for being witty.I'm not sure why these would be the fundaments of any linguistic structure, other than because Fish says so, nor what to do about sentences, like this one, that attempt to do all three. Nor that there aren't perfectly well sentences that do none. (Most of James Ellroy's never get that far, for example).Talk of James Ellroy reminds me: what Fish's prescription, contra Strunk, White and Ellroy's (now There would be a fine book on style!) encourages verbosity. Fish loves long, wordy, flowery writing: he's a lawyer, after all. He devotes he second half of his book to a canter through his favourite sentences from literature. Most, to my eyes, could have been improved with a full stop or two and hearty use of a red pen, and all seemed selected as much to burnish the author's own intellectual credentials as anything else.Fish believes that Strunk & White's preference for concision is a modern error that robs the language of richness and diversity. Now, granted, I don't always practice what I preach, but I profoundly disagree: It is easy (as Fish demonstrates, using his subordinate and additive templates) to write infinitely long sentences. All you need is to be bothered enough to do so. It is harder to write short ones. It is much harder to write good short ones.Elongating a sentence for the sake of it is a charlatan's ruse. It appeals only to the pretentious and those who charge by the hour, as lawyers do. The real challenge, as far as I can see, is imparting all that richness and complexity as economically as possible.Thus I can't recommend this book based on its billing. If you do want to learn, simply, how to write and read a sentence, then - well, try Strunk & White.If you like the idiosyncratic peregrinations of a bon vivant law and literature professor, perhaps this is your book.Olly Buxton

  • By Ed Fitzpatrick on 26 February 2012

    I found this book tedious, pompous, rambling and inconsequential. And lacking in style.I agree entirely with a previous reviewer: concision in writing is a virtue. As George Bernard Shaw once wrote: "I apologise for sending you a long letter. I did not have time to write a short one." Concision requires more effort, but the result for the reader is much better.Not helpful towards good writing.

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