25 October 2009

A Dictionary of Modern English Usage

Henry Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage was first published in 1926. It was an immediate success on publication, selling 60,000 copies in its first year, and it went on to become the most influential set of guidelines on grammar and the use of the English language of the twentieth century. There were later versions revised by Sir Ernest Gowers in 1965 and Robert Burchfield in 1996, but this is a facsimile of the original first edition. It's reproduced photographically from the original - so the entries are arranged in two columns on the page, which was the style for books of this kind at the time. This presentation strikes me as doubly appropriate, because it captures the old-fashioned nature of the original, and it accurately reflects the slightly pedantic tone of the contents. Fowler is not unlike his great lexicological predecessor Samuel Johnson in issuing his judgements wrapped around with ironic asides, which makes for interesting reading... Read more >>

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