The Reader Over Your Shoulder: A Handbook for Writers of English Prose

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9781609807337: The Reader Over Your Shoulder: A Handbook for Writers of English Prose

First published in 1943, The Reader Over Your Shoulder remains required reading for anyone who wants to write more clearly and artfully. Editor Alan Hodge and I, Claudius author Robert Graves enjoin the writer to write as if "a crowd of his prospective readers . . . [were] looking over his shoulder," anticipating possible questions and criticism. They identify the most common blunders writers make and lay out forty-one principles--twenty-five dealing with clarity of statement, sixteen with grace of expression--while showing us how to avoid them. Their insights are as fresh and their examples as entertaining seventy years later as they address such topics as "The Use and Abuse of Official English" and "Where Is Good English to Be Found?" In print again for the first time in decades, this lost gem is sure to take its rightful place alongside The Chicago Manual of Style and Strunk and White's Elements of Style as an indispensable resource for writers of English prose.

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About the Author:

Robert Graves (1895-1985) was a preeminent English poet, novelist, critic, translator, and scholar of classical mythology. He served in World War I--an experience recounted in his 1929 autobiography, Good-Bye to All That--and later became the first professor of English literature at the University of Cairo. Best remembered today for his acclaimed historical novels about the Roman emperor Claudius, I, Claudius and Claudius the God, his other books include The White Goddess, The Hebrew Myths, and Collected Poems.

Alan Hodge
(1915-1979) was a historian and editor. In addition to The Reader Over Your Shoulder, he collaborated with Graves on Work in Hand, a poetry collection, and The Long Week-End, a social history of Britain during the First and Second World War.

Patricia T. O'Conner, a former staff editor at The New York Times Book Review, is the author of five books on language, most recently Origins of the Specious, written with her husband, Stewart Kellerman. Her first book, Woe Is I, has half a million copies in print and will soon appear in a fourth edition. She and Mr. Kellerman blog about the English language at

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