The Oxford Book of Essays

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Now in a more elegant and readable format, this sweeping collection ranges from the early 1600s through the 1980s and includes 140 essays by 120 of the finest writers in the history of the English language. John Gross, former book critic for The New York Times, has collected classics and rare gems, representative samples and personal favorites, intimate essays and learned, serious reflections and hysterically funny satire, by both British and American writers. The authors Gross has gathered form a gallery of genius, all indispensable masters of rhetoric, from Samuel Butler to Samuel Johnson, from George Eliot to George Bernard Shaw, from John Dryden to Ben Franklin, from E.B. White to Joan Didion. Including book reviews and travel sketches, history lessons and meditations, reflections on art and on potato chips, these essays sample four centuries of eloquence and insight in a collection that is at once immensely enlightening, edifying, and entertaining.

Ranging from the early 1600s through the 1980s, this sweeping collection includes 140 essays by 120 of the finest writers in the history of the English language. John Gross has collected classics and rare gems, representative samples and personal favorites, intimate essays and learned, serious reflections and hysterically funny satire, by both British asnd American writers.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This is a collection that succeeds in demonstrating the marvelous variety of the genre."--The Christian Science Monitor

"A distinguished miscellany."--The Chicago Tribune

"Most of the essays are very good indeed....A seductive anthology."--The Economist

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199556557
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 12/15/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 704
  • Sales rank: 527,443
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Editor:
John Gross is the author of The Rise and Fall of the Man of Letters and editor of The Oxford Book of Aphorisms. He has been editor of The New York Times Book Review and The Times Literary Supplement and is theater critic for The Sunday Telegraph.

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Table of Contents

Of Truth 1
Of Revenge 3
Of Boldness 4
Of Innovations 5
Of Masques and Triumphs 6
A Chambermaid 9
A Fair and Happy Milkmaid 10
An Antiquary 12
A Good Old Man 13
A Pot-Poet 14
How the Distempers of these Times should affect wise Men 15
On Dreams 17
Of Anger 21
A Degenerate Noble 23
Of Charity, or the Love of God 25
Of Avarice 27
'Chaucer' from Preface to the Fables 29
Good Manners and Good Breeding 34
A Meditation Upon a Broom-Stick 39
Thoughts in Westminster Abbey 41
The Royal Exchange 43
Sir Roger in Westminster Abbey 46
Sir Roger at Vauxhall 50
On Recollections of Childhood 53
Upon Affectation 57
The Levee 61
The Poor and their Betters 63
Dignity and Uses of Biography 68
Conversation 72
Debtors' Prisons 1 75
Debtors' Prisons 2 77
Of the Dignity or Meanness of Human Nature 81
On Dress 87
A Little Great Man 91
On National Prejudices 94
On War 98
Dream Children 104
from On Some of the Old Actors 107
On the Pleasure of Hating 112
Brummelliana 122
Getting Up on Cold Mornings 126
The Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth 131
from Signs of the Times 136
from Lord Clive 149
On Secrecy 164
Secular Knowledge not a Principle of Action 166
The Conservative 171
The Haunted Mind 187
'Bentham and Coleridge' from Coleridge 192
City of London Churches 196
Autour de mon Chapeau 207
The Plumber 217
Night and Moonlight 221
The Philosophy of Christianity 229
Thomas Carlyle 239
Heine and the Philistines from Heinrich Heine 242
from Evolution and Ethics 247
Dull Government 252
Talking about our Troubles 257
from Autobiography 259
On Knowing what Gives us Pleasure 263
Thoughts of God 266
Sandro Botticelli 270
Wasps 278
Disintroductions 282
The Ph.D. Octopus 285
from London 293
Under the Early Stars 303
The Acorn-Gatherer 305
Aes Triplex 309
'The True Critic' from The Critic as Artist 317
Sir George Grove 320
The Censor of Plays 326
A Visit to Walt Whitman 330
William James 336
Intellectual Ambition 341
Intuitive Morality 342
Cordova 346
On the Departure of a Guest 348
On Being Modern-Minded 351
'A Clergyman' 356
The Dream 362
A Defence of Penny Dreadfuls 372
On Sandals and Simplicity 377
Invective 381
My Own Centenary 383
Creighton 386
The Libido for the Ugly 392
Funeral March 396
Evening Parties 400
Harriette Wilson 404
The Death of the Moth 409
Finnegans Wake 412
The Greatest Victorian 414
Insouciance 420
What There is to See at the Zoo 424
Marie Lloyd 428
Symmetry and Repetition 431
The Necessary Enemy 434
The Sterner Sex 439
The Colloid and the Crystal 444
On Being the Right Size 452
Meditation on the Moon 458
My Own Ten Rules for a Happy Marriage 462
The Toy Farm 468
The Case for Xanthippe 472
A Preface to Persius 480
About Myself 486
Our Half-Hogarth 489
The Ant-Lion 495
Reflections on Gandhi 501
Well-Informed Circles ... and How to Move in Them 510
The Lost Childhood 515
Adams at Ease 520
A New Westminster 528
The Faces of Buddha 532
The Snout 536
What If -? English versus German and French 544
In Search of Nib-Joy 548
Young Hunger 551
Churchill and Roosevelt from Winston Churchill in 1940 555
To Err is Human 560
Bad Poets 564
Thomas Hobbes 566
The Apotheosis of Martin Luther King 572
The Gangster as Tragic Hero 581
The Homburg Hat 587
The People's Victor 591
Movies on Television 595
The Marquis and the Madame 607
The Savage Seventh 611
The Crisp at the Crossroads 617
Stranger in the Village 621
Robert Graves and the Twelve Caesars 634
La Paz 641
A Visit from Royalty 646
Is It Alas, Yorick? 651
Columbus and Crusoe 656
The Bankrupt Man 660
At the Dam 663
About Face 666
A Blizzard of Tiny Kisses 673
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