"Both general readers and specialist critics often complain about my own use of English – not only in my books, but also in my newspaper articles and even in radio talks such as these. “I have to look them up in a dictionary”, they complain – as if this were some kind of torture."
- Will Self.
interesting piece "A Point Of View: In Defense Of Words" - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17777556
"the risk that people seem most reluctant taking is not a physical but a mental one: just as the concrete in children's playgrounds has been covered with rubber, so the hard truth about the effort needed for intellectual attainment is being softened by a sort of semantic padding."
Arthurian Romances, Tales and Lyric Poetry, the Complete Works of Hartmann von Aue. Which, if you're not a German medievalist, will not matter to you at all, but I am just in heaven. Not least because I do not have to slog through this in Middle High German any more. Yes, it's nice that I sorta can, but still. Since I left grad school, a time when no translations existed, a number of academics seem to have gotten on the case, and now everything Hartmann wrote is in English. Yippee!
I am really fond of Hartmann and have been these many decades. He was an unusually bright guy apparently educated way beyond his station in life, given to both deep thinking and great storytelling. He lived at one of those Everything Is Changing/Everything You Know Is Wrong moments and the stories are wildly creative efforts (especially for the 12th century) efforts to harmonize opposites. with great sweetness. It struck me at the time I was studying him how like the '60s his era was, and apparently to judge by German literature it all went to bleep even faster back then... But for this one brief moment it was right and proper that anything was possible.
Anyway, I'm really tickled to have found the book (Penn State Press).
Sorry, but I'm not assigning The Elements of Style; it would just be one more text that my students wouldn't read. But I do teach it's principles, and especially "Omit Needless Words", which I heard a story about years ago that goes like this. E. B. White was a student of William Strunk's, and Strunk was a notorious word-miser. How miserly, you might well ask. According to White, Strunk thought "Omit Needless Words" was so important that he would wrote those three words on the blackboard three times in rapid succession to make his point, or so the story goes.
from my first interview with Hunter: lose the passive voice! and watch out for excess adjectives!
Oh yeah, been #1 on my recommended list for a long time, whether or not the recommendee is considering being a "writer," per se. Followed closely by the OED and Roget, just because everyone ought to have a linguistic Swiss Army Knife.
make sure the little darlings get Strunk & White. And internalize the principle Omit Needless Words.
which was many years ago, I loved William James and thought that book was about the most sensible thing I had ever read.
I also got fond of his bro Henry later in life. And bringing the discussion around, in Donna Leon, the Commissario's wife, a professor, is much in love with Henry James.
I've been meandering through William James' The Varieties of the Religious Experience over the past few months, but right now, I'm mostly rereading the textbook that I'm using in an English composition course I'm teaching this summer, plus the essays that my students will be writing over the next five weeks. I wish I had the time to read a novel, but ever since I started reading for a living, it seems I read less and less of the things that led me down this path in the first place.
Donna Leon's Drawing Conclusions, which I loved. Not that Donna Leon has ever written a bad one, of course, but this one's really nice, and the Commissario and Signorina Elettra are in fine form.
I loved the bits about baseball.
I'm not old enough to remember the teams the old man knows, but I'm old enough to remember their immediate successors and that whole culture.