A Dictionary of Modern English Usage: The Classic First Edition (Oxford World's Classics)
No book had more influence on twentieth-century writers of English than Henry Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage. It rapidly became the standard work of reference for the correct use of English in terms of choice of words, grammar, and style. Much loved for his firm opinions, passion, and dry humor, Fowler has stood the test of time and is still considered by many to be the best arbiter of good practice. Now Oxford is bringing back the original long-out-of-print first edition of this beloved work, enhanced with a new introduction by one of today's leading experts on the language, David Crystal. Drawing on a wealth of entertaining examples, Crystal offers an insightful reassessment Fowler's reputation and his place in the history of linguistic thought. Most important, Crystal examines nearly 300 of Fowler's entries in detail, offering a modern perspective on them, and showing how English has changed since the 1920s. This exciting paperback edition of one of the classic works of English reference will delight everyone interested in language.
About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
they went back one too far
By Caraculiambro - January 7, 2010
Here's the deal with Fowler's.
1918: Henry Watson Fowler dies.
1926: First irascible version of his "Dictionary of Modern English Usage" published. Owing to the author's idiosyncrasies and clear-headed prescriptions, it earns a place on every writer's shelf.
1965: An new edition comes out, edited by Sir Ernest Gowers. Most people believe Gowers only brought the language up-to-date where absolutely necessary, keeping the spirit of the original intact. In other words, this revision was hailed as welcome and necessary.
1996: Massive overhaul of the text published, edited by the famous Robert W. Burchfield. Burchfield thoroughly changes the language and even the spirit of Fowler's original, resulting in a book that is much more observational than prescriptional. Much of what made the original beloved was excised.
2009: David Crystal digs up the 1926 edition, reprints it, and writes a big honkin' essay at the end, (almost... read more
The REAL Fowler, with only one misprinted page
By Ian Gilbert - December 30, 2009
Fowler's strong and often cranky opinions are all here, expressed in his elegant prose. Notes and other material by David Crystal are all interesting; as always, Crystal knows what he's talking about when he talks about the English language.
The main text of this reprint is an exact copy of my worn, brittle original, except that the new edition ends with the penultimate page, page 741. Page 742 is entirely blank, depriving the reader of Fowler's final entries for "Z", about two-thirds of a page. It looks as though some summer intern or apprentice printer thought that the page had to be blank because it precedes a section of David Crystal's new material.
The book is still entirely worthwhile even without the missing page. One can only wonder what Fowler (and Oxford's printers of yore) would say about the error.
By Edwin F. Stevens - February 11, 2010
Inspired by my acquisition of Fowler's "A Dictionary of Modern English Usage: The Classic First Edition," I have now embarked on reading it from cover to cover. Up to now, I have randomly read, in tattered volumes, a lot of the first edition, but not the entire, delightful work -- with all its captivating obscurities, clarities, inconsistencies, insights, and sly humor.
Much as I admire Fowler, I know this will not be an easy exercise.
Even other admirers, far better language experts than I, warn of difficulties ahead:
For example, here is admirer Sir Ernest Gowers, the first reviser of "Modern English Usage" in 1965:
"What is the secret of [the book's] success? It is not that all Fowler's opinions are unchallengeable. Many have been challenged. It is not that he is always easy reading. At his best he is incomparable. But he never forgot what he calls 'that pestilent fellow the critical reader' who is 'not satisfied with catching the... read more
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