For Who the Bell Tolls

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This is a bibliography page, concerning a work to which reference is made elsewhere in this guide.


Marsh, David (2013) For Who the Bell Tolls, London, Guardian Books and Faber and Faber.


This is an interesting and valuable book on aspects of 'correctness' in written English, although AWE would point out that Marsh is a (highly regarded) journalist, and is advising about writing in a register less formal than that of academic writing, which is AWE's principal concern. Marsh is thinking of writing for a serious (broadsheet) newspaper, which values an element of humanity in its writing, and a sort of easy and natural style, which approaches that of normal conversation on serious subjects. His humane and common-sense approach may be illustrated by his thought that using 'to whom' "sounds affected and stiff", and "makes you sound like a pompous twerp." This advice holds good for many listeners to spoken language; but does not always hold good in writing formally. Some academics will always sound like 'pompous twerps' to some in the wider community (and some of these academics may hold it as a badge of pride to do so); others may hold it as a badge of pride to sound as up-to-date colloquial as their students. As so often, AWE's advice is to try to meet the prejudices of the audience for whom you are writing. To be able to use whom correctly is a skill worth developing; to be able to judge when to use it is an even more valuable skill.


David Marsh is also part-author of The Guardian Stylebook: he is (2013) production editor of The Guardian newspaper, and edits its on-going Style Guide.