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The first essay of E. B. White's ...
The first essay of E. B. White's to become famous, "Farewell to Model T" originally appeared in 1936 in The New Yorker as "Farewell My Lovely." It is rich in comic descriptions of the eccentricities of the car, the demands it put on its devoted owners, and the hardware and decorative accessories—from 98-cent anti-rattlers to the "de-luxe flower vase of the cut-glass anti-splash type"—that kept them pouring over the Sears Roebuck catalog. If there was an owner's manual for the flivver, it didn't begin to divulge what the owner needed to know. That's where theory, speculation, superstition, and metaphysics came in: "I remember once spitting into a timer," White recalls, "not in anger, but in a spirit of research."
It is published for the first time with "Sea to Shining Sea," in which White conjures the America that he had discovered as a 22-year old during a cross country trip in his Model T. (The year was 1922, the same the year that Fitzgerald and Hemingway went to Paris to find themselves.) In it he would write: "My own vision of the land—my own discovery of it—was shaped, more than by any other instrument, by a Model T Ford...a slow-motion roadster of miraculous design—strong, tremulous, and tireless, from sea to shining sea."
Posted July 21, 2007
Farewell to Model T/From Sea to Shining Sea is an outstanding piece of writing by E. B. White. He describes what it was once like to be the proud owner of a Model T car with all its eccentricities. I thought it was witty and comical and very entertaining.
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Posted February 29, 2012
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