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9780312186012

The King's English: A Guide to Modern Usage

Kingsley Amis

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A Parthian shot from one of the most important figures in post-war British fiction, The King's English is the late Kingsley Amis's last word on the state of the language. More frolicsome than Fowler's Modern Usage, lighter than the Oxford English Dictionary, and brimming with the strong opinions and razor-sharp wit that made Amis so popular--and so controversial-- The King's English is a must for fans and language purists.

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Kingsley Amis's The King's English is as witty and biting as his novels. Modestly presented as a volume "in which some modern linguistic problems are discussed and perhaps settled," Amis's usage guide is a worthy companion to his revered Fowler's. The King's English is distinctly British, but never mind: it is sensational. And unlike many of his countrymen, Amis is decidedly pro-American, even admitting a "bias towards American modes of expression as likely to seem the livelier and ... smarter alternative." In a world populated by usage mavens too willing to waffle, Amis is refreshingly unequivocal. On the expression meaningful dialogue? It "looks and sounds unbearably pompous. Nevertheless one would not wish to be deprived of a phrase that so unerringly points out its user as a humourless ninny." To cross one's 7's, he says, "is either gross affectation or, these days, straightforward ignorance." And the frequently misused word viable, he claims, "should be dropped altogether ... simply because it has taken the fancy of every trendy little twit on the look-out for a posh word for feasible, practicable." Forget Amis's protestations of being unfit for the position of language arbiter; after all, as he says, "the defence of the language is too large a matter to be left to the properly qualified." --Jane Steinberg

From the Publisher:

"Readers who missed, in our cautious times, old-fashioned invective will find Amis their man...This is entertaining, like an Amis novel." -- The Wall Street Journal

"Smart, witty and idiosyncratic" --San Diego Union-Tribune

"A brilliant practitioner of English prose." --Time

"Surprisingly non-stickling...[Amis] can blast with the best." --L.A. Times

"Entertaining is not normally a word reserved for usage manuals. Leave it to Amis...to deliver a style manual laced with witty, acerbic commentary." --Booklist

"There may be more comprehensive guides to English usage but there will never be a more entertaining one. Nor one more passionate." --Daily Mail (UK)

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