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How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One (2011)

de Stanley Fish

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Fish has always been an aficionado of language, marveling at the adeptness of finely crafted sentences. Here he offers both sentence craft and sentence pleasure, skills invaluable to any writer (or reader).
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Es mostren 1-5 de 23 (següent | mostra-les totes)
This elegant little book's force hit me several days after I read it. I took it out of my trade-in bag and put it on my permanent shelf, and I expect to reread it occasionally for years to come.
  Mark_Feltskog | Dec 23, 2023 |
I can't imagine a better companion to Strunk and White. This is a book for people who love sentences. Fish demonstrates how sentence construction follows particular forms, and that it's these forms, rather than an exhaustive knowledge of Grammar, that can be learned and replicated. Highly recommended if you have any interest in the English language. This is obviously a book for writers, but I think it would be valuable to avid readers and students of any discipline. ( )
  dogboi | Sep 16, 2023 |
Fish is an expert, but I can't recall, after a few years, anything from this book. ( )
  mykl-s | Jun 17, 2023 |
The half of this book that's about "How to Write a Sentence" is super good. The half of it that's about "How to Read One" is abysmal. ( )
  AKBWrites | Jul 19, 2022 |
Fish write abotu his passion for sentences. He first draws a distinction between form and content but eventually acknowledges that the two are both essential. I might go further to assert that form IS content.
He uses many examples of sentences he admires and some are terrific. Things bog down a bit when too many of his examples are from the 17th and 18th centuries. They are good sentences in the style of their time, but not so accessible today. It takes confidence to write about how sentences should work, since one's own is on display. His love for language comes through. Bottom line, he shows how its been done, but I didn't get much insight on how to do it myself. ( )
  brianstagner | Jul 10, 2022 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 23 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Stanley Fish is not a writer of this caliber. He is a fluent, sometimes a lively (for an academic), but finally an undistinguished writer. A self-advertised sophist, he is most at home in polemic. Sentence by sentence, this would-be connoisseur of sentences is insufficiently scrupulous. He often roams deep into cliché country. “You can talk the talk,” he writes, “but you can’t walk the walk.” Earlier he writes that “the very thought of putting pen to paper, an anachronism I find hard to let go of, is enough to bring on an anxiety attack.” An anachronism isn’t the same as a cliché, and pen to paper, as clichés go, is blue ribbon, and let go of it, gladly, Fish should have done. His diction, or word choice, is commonplace: those worn-out vogue words “focus,” “meaningful,” and “bottom line,” come to him all too readily. “But, far from being transparent and incisive,” he writes, “these declarations come wrapped in a fog; they seem to skate on their own surface and simply don’t go deep enough.” Take three metaphors, mix gently, sprinkle lightly with abstraction, and serve awkwardly. These infelicities are from Fish’s first twenty pages. Many more, to stay with my salad metaphor, are peppered throughout the book.


I seem to have written more than three thousand words without a single kind one for How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One. To remedy this, at least partially, let it be noted that, at 165 pages, index and acknowledgments and biographical note on the author included, it is a short book.
Fish’s aim is to offer a guide to sentence craft and appreciation that is both deeper and more democratic [than Strunk and White's]. What, at base, is a sentence? he asks, and then goes on to argue that the standard answer based in parts of speech and rules of grammar teaches students “nothing about how to write”. Instead, we should be examining the “logical relationships” within different sentence forms to see how they organise the world. His argument is that you can learn to write and later become a good writer by understanding and imitating these forms from many different styles.

... for those, and I would count myself among them, who fell in love with literature not by becoming enthralled to books they couldn’t put down but by discovering individual sentences whose rhythm and rhetoric was so compelling they couldn’t help but repeat them to anyone who would listen, it is a blessed replacement to that old Strunkian superego forever whispering in your ear – cut, cut, cut.
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Fish has always been an aficionado of language, marveling at the adeptness of finely crafted sentences. Here he offers both sentence craft and sentence pleasure, skills invaluable to any writer (or reader).

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Mitjana: (3.55)
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