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tinctions. But the authors have sacrificed every real or assumed virtue that has seemed to interfere with their main purpose: to make a book that would be clear in outline, in- . formal in presentation, rich in tested devices and interesting material — a book that would teach.
THE PLAN OF THis Book
The plan of this manual is simple and logical, as the table of contents will show. “ The Means of Composition,” “ The Ends of Composition,” “ Aids to Composition,” – there is the scheme.
The book begins with the means of ordering and expressing thought. Before the player can perfect his game of tennis he must learn his strokes; and before the student can write freely he must master his technique. The first part of this volume is therefore devoted to the tools of composition: the outline, the paragraph, the sentence, etc., each one of them explained and practised in connection with the governing principles of Unity, Coherence, and Emphasis. But in every instance the starting point is neither a definition nor a theory ; it is the need of another means of expression. The method is inductive throughout.
All formal classification of the various ends of composition has been reserved for “ The Ends of Composition,” which is the second part of the book. It is true that the exercises from the very beginning lead toward self-expression, and thus toward an end; for the student must always have an object in view as a result of his writing or speaking, unless he is to talk or write mere empty words. But the precise nature of the form which his purpose must take — whether Narration, Description, Exposition, or Argument is not considered until the means of composition have been rendered thoroughly serviceable. It is time enough then to classify the formal ends of composition ;
and this postponement provides a step upward for the maturing student, and an opportunity to practise his new powers in a broader field.
The third part of the book, the “ Aids to Composition," differs radically from the others. The sections on Punctuation, Spelling, Capitalization, Grammar Review, etc., which it contains are aids; they belong not to the theory which the student should be following, but to the rules of the game. They are to be given when needed; and more than once. With them are other sections on Prosody, Figures of Speech, the Preparation of Manuscripts, which may be either taught or used for reference as the teacher sees fit; and still another brief chapter on Letter Writing, whose purpose is to stimulate as much as to edify or correct.
How TO USE THIS BOOK
The best way to use this book is to begin with Chapter I of the “Means," and continue through to the last chapter of the “ Ends,” with constant reference to the “ Aids” by the way. But the book is flexible. The teacher may change the order to suit his particular needs, or particular class, without affecting the teaching value of the whole.
The theory in each chapter should be assigned for study in lessons which embrace a complete topic or sub-topic; the needs and capabilities of the class must determine the exact amount. The authors confidently believe that the natural divisions of the subject will provide a far better guide for the teacher than an arbitrary slicing into lessons for a hypothetical “average class.”
The illustrations and examples should be handled with like freedom. They have been provided in copious abundance with the hope that every teacher will find those that are best for his teaching, best for his class. All serve to illustrate the theory
of the text; but each teacher may make his own selection ; and they may be assigned either in company with the topic which they exemplify, or for supplementary study.
The exercises are equally abundant. “O reason not the need.” With such differing tastes among teachers, with such varying capabilities among students, there can scarcely be too many. It is precisely in the attempt to fit the same problem in writing to every class that so many composition courses come to grief. In this book, an assortment of exercises in both oral and written composition has been placed at the end of each important topic, and these present a moderate range of subjects. But it is hard to hit many marks with a few shots only; and hence the authors have placed Summary Exercises at the end of each chapter, in which are grouped all the fruitful and apposite suggestions which experience has supplied. They may be used to supplement the regular work; for review; or whenever and wherever they are needed. Among these Summary Exercises will be found easy subjects for dull students, average exercises for average students, and many more difficult and also more stimulating exercises for the more promising members of the class. If used with judgment and due consideration of the different personalities in the class, they should prove to be most valuable.
This book can be used readily and safely by the drill master who wishes to assign the work without troubling to adjust it to the individualities of his students. But it is not written for him. It is written for the teacher who seeks a teaching point for each lesson; who wishes to consult his own powers or tastes in choosing the means of presentation; who is willing to study his class while he conducts and encourages the practice of composition.
Rhetoric, even though the medievals spoke of “Rhethorike sweete,” has had the name of a cold, hard subject. As “Com
position," it has redeemed itself by making closer still a relation with life which has always been evident. Indeed, it is admirable that everywhere teachers are giving vigor, significance, enthusiasm, to a subject that never should have been without these qualities. But free expression profits no man unless it is true expression also. If this book can serve, however humbly, the teachers who are working in the cause of simple, expressive, accurate speech and writing, the authors will have achieved their first ambition. And it is their further hope that the careful development of theory, the abundance of illustration and suggestion, will lighten the burden of compilation and explanation, so that the teacher may be able to put freedom of invention, force of personality, and all that makes for individual stimulus into his work.
The authors wish to acknowledge their indebtedness to the following publishers for permission to quote from copyrighted works: The Macmillan Co.; Charles Scribner & Sons; The A. W. Elson Co.; The Houghton Mifflin Co.; The Frank A. Munsey Co.; The Outlook Co.; The Doubleday, Page Co.; D. Appleton & Co.; Henry Holt & Co.; The American Book Co.; Ginn & Co.; The Simplified Spelling Board; the New
York Times; the Yale Review; The Literary Digest; and to Miss Mary Johnson, Mr. J. Berg Esenwein, and to others whose kindness has been acknowledged in the text; also to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts for the privilege of reproducing Mr. Winslow Homer's “ Fog Warning,” and to Miss A. M. Smith for the use of special proof sheets of which she is author. They wish also to thank Mrs. Gertrude Atherton for the letter (on page 461) which she was kind enough to write especially for this book.
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