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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

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With Alan Hodge

Introduction by Patricia T. O'Conner

First published in 1947, The Reader Over Your Shoulder remains required reading for anyone who wants to write more clearly and artfully. Editor Alan Hodge and I, Claudius author Robert Graves enjoin the writer to write as if “a crowd of his prospective readers . . . [were] looking over his shoulder,” anticipating possible questions and criticism. They identify the most common blunders writers make and lay out forty-one principles—twenty-five dealing with clarity of statement, sixteen with grace of expression—while showing us how to avoid them. Their insights are as fresh and their examples as entertaining seventy years later as they address such topics as “The Use and Abuse of Official English” and “Where Is Good English to Be Found?” In print again for the first time in decades, this lost gem is sure to take its rightful place alongside The Chicago Manual of Style and Strunk and White’s Elements of Style as an indispensable resource for writers of English prose.

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“Robert Graves is a Renaissance figure, among the most generous, self-willed, unseemly and brilliant writers of our century.”

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Robert Graves (1895–1985) was a preeminent English poet, novelist, critic, translator, and scholar of classical mythology. He served in World War I—an experience recounted in his 1929 autobiography, Good-bye to All That—and later became the first professor of English literature at the University of Cairo. Best remembered today for his acclaimed historical novels about the Roman emperor Claudius, I, Claudius and Claudius the God, his other books include The White Goddess, The Hebrew Myths, and Collected Poems.