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Customer Review

VINE VOICEon 1 October 2013
Written during the reign of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, there can be no doubt that the title here refers not to the language as defined by the sovereign, but to the language as defined by "The King", as Kingsley Amis (KA) was known by, to some of his close friends.

Many of us are probably guilty of the mistake of assuming that the verbal dexterity shown by writers such as KA comes pretty naturally and that given the time and a bit of effort that there is no reason why most of us could not produce a novel or two without tripping up on points of grammar or meaning. Ahhh, but how mistaken we are. Writing is a skill as much as any other, and good writing is that skill at its peak, comparable to the skill of a concert pianist or a professional golfer or a master glass-cutter. High skills require innate talent, hard work and dedication. And it really should come as no surprise to find that KA had always to hand his Oxford English Dictionary and his copy of Fowler's Modern English Usage and that these reference books were his "Bibles" throughout his hugely successful writing career. And during those years he honed his own skills to such a degree that he could write this unique personal contribution to English grammar and usage. Who would have thought that a grammar book would make one laugh out loud? Well, this one does.

In "The King's English" KA provides us in a condensed form the fundamental knowledge that aspirant writers (and readers) should have, although as he points out, and as we know deep down, many writers do not seem to have this basic knowledge (read the newspapers and listen to daily radio for a constant stream of bloomers, (or is that bloopers?)).

So, here we have instruction and advice on:

The "dangling participle".
The "split infinitive" ("to boldly go." acceptable or not?).
Is it permissible to end a sentence with a preposition? YES!!
What's the difference between "illusion" and "delusion" ? ("..that the sun moves round the earth was once a delusion, and is still an illusion.")
When should we use "Classic" instead of "classical"? (Classic FM...correct?..apparently not!)
Beware of adding "ly" to already perfectly good adverbs...lastly, but not leastly! What nextly!!??

Kingsley gives us his views and guidance on these and on many, many other writing issues, all in his own inimitable and highly amusing style.

A last example - He includes a long list of French expressions that are often used in English, and he adds his advice on how to pronounce (and not to pronounce) them:

"liqueur" he tells us to pronounce "Lih-CURE", and he goes on to note that
"Any attempt to say "lee-cur" in a Frenchified way is a useful wanker-detector".

You really will laugh out loud a lot, and learn a lot too, when reading this absolutely wonderful book.
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