On the Writing of English

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Blackie, 1915 - English language - 158 pages
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On the Writing of English would have helped me as a junior high school student in the mid-Sixties. I needed then Professor Warner's gentle care and wisdom since I could not see value in learning subtle things about writing to achieve good style--my immature mind and emotions were hindering me. Warner understands such doubts in youth as he guides British school boys into their first essays. His address to them is conversational throughout, and his calm assurance effects authority without strictness. Most teenagers would accept that approach, and it would have helped me to see the subtleties that improve writing.
On the Writing of English is an inspiring read for teachers, too, because it is example of teaching from the heart with gentleness toward the pupil and with a masterful strategy. Professor Warner achieves both indirectly: By talkatively leading the pupil, all the rules of good writing are given, but not listed; instead, Warner reveals the principles through examples of good and bad writing as the conversation flows along. Presenting the essentials this way avoids the recoil that a categorical address might provoke in a teenager.
Then, in the appendix, Warner adds his suggestive comments before excerpts collected from essays by Bacon, Macaulay, Stevenson, and others. From beginning to end, Professor Warner draws his pupils along to desire his purpose that they too should become able writers who do not embarrass themselves or disappoint their readers.


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