Dean Ward Farnsworth (U Texas Law) Guest-Blogging About Legal Writing


I'm delighted to report that Dean Ward Farnsworth of the University of Texas School of Law will be guest-blogging this week about his new book, Farnsworth's Classical English Style:


This book shows how to put life into your writing and your speech. Its lessons are illustrated with hundreds of examples from Lincoln, Churchill, and other masters of the language.

Classical English Style is the third book in this acclaimed series about principles of good writing. The first, Classical English Rhetoric, shows how ancient rhetorical figures can be used to great effect in English. The second, Classical English Metaphor, does the same for figurative comparisons. This book takes a similar approach to more basic questions of style: the selection of words, the arrangement of sentences, the creation of a cadence. All the volumes in Farnsworth's Classical English are a must for every writer.

"For writers aspiring to master the craft, Farnsworth shows how it's done. For lovers of language, he provides waves of sheer pleasure." ―Steven Pinker

"An eloquent study of the very mechanisms of eloquence." ―Henry Hitchings

"A great and edifying pleasure."―Mark Helprin

"A storehouse of effective writing, showing the techniques you may freely adapt to make music of your own." ―The Baltimore Sun

"Mr. Farnsworth has written an original and absorbing guide to English style. Get it if you can."―Wall Street Journal

I very much look forward to Dean Farnsworth's posts!

NEXT: Michigan State University VP of Research Ousted Because of His Past Scientific Statements

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  1. Classical English Style is the third book [in] this acclaimed series about principles of good writing.

    Was that the test to see who was awake?

    1. Funny! Corrected it (though the error was on the Amazon page).

  2. Churchill used his oratorical skills to promote racism and white supremacy in the colonial British Empire. His works should be burned for the betterment of mankind (and womankind too).

  3. This is unrelated to the subject of the post, but I was wondering Professor Volokh whether you’ve seen Josh Hawley’s proposal to amend section 230 of the CDA:

    It strikes me as a First Amendment violation, either because it denies speakers an important benefit (liability protection) if they engage in certain expressive conduct or speech, or because it discriminates on the basis of the speaker. And it seems like Rust or similar cases wouldn’t provide support, since the bill wouldn’t be creating a government program or defining how federal funds are spent.

  4. So, what’s wrong with dry toast?
    Dry toast, dry toast.

    It’s what churned butter and recipe marmalade are made for, and as mere dressings only, after its substantive making.

    Don’t diss dry toast.

    1. Dry toast is a toast failure. Good toast is dryly firm on the outside, but delightfully moist(?) on the inside.

      1. Dry toast is just fine and especially satisfying after scraping off its burnt offerings into the sink and applying a little apple butter or fig jam to the resurrected slab. Perhaps a good editor does this.

  5. I’m not that excited.

    Legal writing doesn’t have a lot to learn from the past. The more back in time you get, the worse the writing. One reason lawyers are such terrible writers is that they go through law school reading dreadfully ornate opinions from the eighteenth century. You can criticize today’s briefs full of legalese and passive voice, but for impenetrability they don’t hold a candle to your average Supreme Court decision from the 1840s.

    In fact the worst slog was Allen Farnsworth’s book on Contracts. I wonder if Ward is related to that guy? Some of the decisions in that book had paragraphs two or three pages long. Why force us to read that crap? (I won’t go into Allen’s praise of Cardozo’s eloquent misogyny)

    People like Lincoln were exceptions in their time. As for Churchill, if I see his “blood toil sweat and tears” quoted again, I’ll puke.

  6. Sounds like a good read to me, but then, I like that sort of thing.

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