Title: Stylistics
Author: Peter Verdonk
Publisher: Oxford Introductions to Language Study series
Summary: Yet another of Oxford's excellent introductory series - compact little books containing remarkably thorough introductions to large and deep subjects. Well done Oxford, and thank you very much!
Reviewed by: Kaithe Greene
Review date: February 2005

StylisticsThis small volume states its purpose as "…to support the more academically orientated introductions…", hence its suitability for us less academically orientated individuals; and "…to prepare the conceptual ground." I confess to needing my conceptual ground preparing before I attempt to tackle more weighty and profound works! The series editor comments in the preface that the series is "…based on the belief that it is an advantage to have a broad map of a terrain sketched out before one considers its more specific features…". Again, I can’t help feeling that this approach could have been designed for those of us who must learn to walk before we can run. If, like me, you need this kind of conceptual stabiliser on your intellectual bicycle, you will love this readable and comprehensible introduction to stylistics.

This book, like others in the series, consists of four parts ­ Survey, Readings, References, and Glossary. For me, the first section "Survey" was the main part of the book, dealing with the most important aspects of studying style in language. These included the various defining features of genre, the purposes behind the use of these features and the effects achieved, the nature of text and context, various perspectives on meaning and interpretation and analysis.

Section two, "Readings", is a listing of all the source texts chapter by chapter. But this is not merely a bibliography, the relevant section of each text is reproduced complete with thought-provoking commentary.

For a bibliography we must go to the third section, appropriately entitled "References", which contains not only a full list of references, but also a brief (one or two sentence) synopsis of each book and a grading system which describes each item as introductory, more advanced or specialized and very demanding.

Finally, section four, the Glossary - this could be described as a basic survival kit for readers of works on linguistic theory.

All in all, a neat and readable little volume which would be particularly useful preparatory reading for anyone considering, or about to start studying linguistics. ESL Reviews & ArticlesKaithe Greene will shortly be joining the very select ranks of MA qualified English teaching grandmothers.