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What's a Précis

What's a Précis

What's a Précis. (Thanks Professor Wendell Bell)

I'm currently writing my first for the site (Atomic Habits Précis) and realized a bit of an overview of what one is and why I'm doing it is in order.

What's a précis?

It's a fancy summary of someone else's work; academic cliff notes that condense a longer work into a shorter, faithful synthesis of the main points and arguments. They're meant to be devoid of the précis writers voice and opinions (a standard I'm not holding myself too). Précis should technically not quote the original work too much (sorry, I'm quoting).  

Why a précis?  

They're an amazing tool for sharing a work.  But, perhaps the précis writer benefits the most; the act of writing a précis really helps one synthesize and internalize the work.


Thanks  Professor Wendell Bell

I should give credit where credit is due.  When I was in graduate school Professor Wendell Bell instructed us to keep a journal.  Part of our journaling requirement was to write précis of any books that were assigned.  

I did a bit of googling about Professor Bell just now. It turns out he passed away on November 3, 2019.  Coincidentally his memorial was today at 2:00PM in Hamden, CT.  

Professor Bell was an admirable man in countless ways - kind, compassionate, and erudite.  He was  a true role model for anyone looking to live a loving, engaged and informed life.  I'm afraid I was too immature and distracted by personal daemons to reap the full benefits of having him as a teacher.  It is wildly comforting to know there are countless people who benefited in small and large ways from  knowing him.

The world truly does seem to work in mysterious ways. I'm glad I had the opportunity to share my brief, personal memory of Professor Bell this day.

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