Having read "Strunk and White" over and over, I remember their admonitions to omit needless words and use the active voice. Like White, I am not always successful in my writing, but I strive to reach success in editing. On a recent visit to a cyberspace library, I saw "Strunk and White" on audio and checked it out. Listening to "Strunk and White" is challenging, especially catching the differences between examples read aloud while I navigate to and from work past slow moving trucks and watch for farmers leaving their fields to cross the road. The audio version shows Strunk's strong opinions better than the written text, but the written text helps readers to reflect on his rules and examples. Listening to the audio version, I wonder who these two men were. Strunk was a professor at Cornell, and E.B. White an author. Wikipedia tells us that Strunk taught for 46 years, but published only two books: "The Elements of Style" and "English Metres." Strunk was more an editor, editing books by William Shakespeare, James Fenimore Cooper, and other authors. Strunk also worked in the movies, where he was a literary consultant on Romeo and Juliet. E.B. White was an author. He work includes "Charlotte's Web" and "Stuart Little." You may remember both stories from childhood. "Charlotte's Web" was the story of a pig, and "Stuart Little" was the story of a mouse. E.B. White joined the New Yorker magazine in 1927, writing for the magazine for six decades. E.B. White was Strunk's student. Robert Angell, E.B. White's stepson, introduces the audio version. Both the original authors are now dead, but listening to Angell's memories of his stepfather typing for The New Yorker in his study, I saw E.B. White working on his writing. Wikipedia also provides criticism of "Strunk and White," referring to personal eccentricities and now antiquated pet peeves. The book may be arbitrary in places and I may not agree with all of its rules, but I look to more to "Strunk and White" to help myself with the big picture of my writing such as omitting needless words, using the active voice, and editing. I listen to the rules, understanding that the rules address the problems that Strunk saw in his students. Strunk and White do not present a grammar book; doing so was not their goal. When I stop my car, turning off the audio and "Strunk and White," I wonder what Strunk might have said about his book being on audio. I can picture him stating that we read books to children and blind people. I imagine that visually challenged was not a term he would approve of. Listening to "Strunk and White" in the car is more entertainment than reflecting on writing. I enjoy listening, but I am not sure if it will help my writing. As a reader who has read the text version, I wonder how many people will listen to the audio, never seeing the text version. That, I can't imagine.
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