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Algernon Charles Swinburne Ranks the Style Guides Based on Google Popularity

Our favorite poet takes your (least) favorite style books to task.

July 9, 2015

I must admit to feeling similarly toward the plethora of manuals and guides of style and usage for the English language as I always have toward the countless religions and spiritualities of this earth, as I chronicle with typical whim and wit in my poem “The Higher Pantheism in a Nutshell.”  That is, I find them rubbish. We humans are keen to conjure up such silly rules and regulations, issue flaunters thereof citations, answer deviance with impatience. Even deviance in how to properly deviate is treated with disdain; Oscar Wilde, that petty ponce, once called me “a braggart in matters of vice.” Pot to the kettle, I say. Indeed, in his desperation to not take anything seriously, the man took himself too seriously — almost as seriously as the following manuals take themselves. I refuse to afford them such circumstance.

13: The Elements of Typographic Style


Author: Robert Bringhurst
Google Hits: 62,500 results (0.59 seconds)

One, who is not, we see: but one, whom we see not, is:
Surely this is not that: but that is assuredly this.

No. 12: A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations or Turabian


Author: Kate L. Turabian
Google Hits: 109,000 results (0.57 seconds)

What, and wherefore, and whence? for under is over and under:
If thunder could be without lightning, lightning could be without thunder.

No. 11: The Associated Press Stylebook


Organization: The Associated Press
Google Hits: 149,000 results (0.40 seconds)

Doubt is faith in the main: but faith, on the whole, is doubt:
We cannot believe by proof: but could we believe without?

No. 10: The MLA Style Manual


Organization: Modern Language Association of America
Google Hits: 185,000 results (0.34 seconds)

Why, and whither, and how? for barley and rye are not clover:
Neither are straight lines curves: yet over is under and over.

No. 9: The AMA Manual of Style


Organization: American Medical Association
Google Hits: 324,000 results (0.38 seconds)

Two and two may be four: but four and four are not eight:
Fate and God may be twain: but God is the same thing as fate.

No. 8: The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers


Organization: Modern Language Association of America
Google Hits: 357,000 results (0.45 seconds)

Ask a man what he thinks, and get from a man what he feels:
God, once caught in the fact, shows you a fair pair of heels.

No. 7: The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century


Author: Steven Pinker
Google Hits: 376,000 results (0.35 seconds)

Body and spirit are twins: God only knows which is which:
The soul squats down in the flesh, like a tinker drunk in a ditch.

No. 6: The Chicago Manual of Style


Organization: University of Chicago Press
Google Hits: 406,000 results (0.38 seconds)

More is the whole than a part: but half is more than the whole:
Clearly, the soul is the body: but is not the body the soul?

No. 5: Fowler’s Modern English Usage


Author: H.W. Fowler
Google Hits: 425,000 results (0.42 seconds)

One and two are not one: but one and nothing is two:
Truth can hardly be false, if falsehood cannot be true.

No. 4: The Elements of Style


Authors: William Strunk, Jr., and E.B. White
Google Hits: 457,000 results (0.49 seconds)

Once the mastodon was: pterodactyls were common as cocks:
Then the mammoth was God: now is He a prize ox.

No. 3: ISO 690

Organization: International Organization for Standardization
Google Hits: 458,000 results (0.37 seconds)

Parallels all things are: yet many of these are askew:
You are certainly I: but certainly I am not you.

No. 2: The American Chemical Society Style Guide


Organization: American Chemical Society
Google Hits: 1,050,000 results (0.35 seconds)

Springs the rock from the plain, shoots the stream from the rock:
Cocks exist for the hen: but hens exist for the cock.

No. 1: Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association


Organization: American Psychological Association
Google Hits: 1,710,000 results (0.41 seconds)

God, whom we see not, is: and God, who is not, we see:
Fiddle, we know, is diddle: and diddle, we take it, is dee.

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