Strunk + White

fountain pen on notepad

I had a dream the oth­er night. I was vis­it­ing a friend—I don’t recall who, but it might have been one of the Craigs I know—and, left alone in a room, I was look­ing over the friend’s bookcase.

I found on there a copy of The Ele­ments of Style, col­lo­qui­al­ly known as “Strunk + White” after the authors. In the real world it’s a thin book, not much more impos­ing than a pam­phlet; I’ve read novel­las that are longer. But in the dream it was a trade paper­back, prob­a­bly 400 pages long, and I pulled it off the shelf. I used to have a copy, in the dream, and I thought maybe I’d lent it to this friend.

But if it was my copy, I had­n’t put my name in the front, which I usu­al­ly do when I lend out a book. So I hes­i­tat­ed, con­tem­plat­ed tak­ing it any­way, then decid­ed not to risk it. I put it back on the shelf.

I don’t remem­ber the rest of the dream.

When I searched the Inter­net for “Strunk and White”, I found this arti­cle from Mignon Fog­a­r­ty, aka Gram­mar Girl, in which she lays out one rea­son why she does­n’t much care for The Ele­ments of Style. (TL;DR: it’s a style guide that every­one treats like it’s a gram­mar book. In oth­er words, it’s a set of sug­ges­tions that peo­ple instead treat like laws.)