The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present

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For more than four hundred years, the personal  essay has been one of the richest and most vibrant  of all literary forms. Distinguished from the  detached formal essay by its friendly, conversational  tone, its loose structure, and its drive toward  candor and self-disclosure, the personal essay  seizes on the minutiae of daily life-vanities,  fashions, foibles, oddballs, seasonal rituals, love and  disappointment, the pleasures of ...

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Overview

For more than four hundred years, the personal  essay has been one of the richest and most vibrant  of all literary forms. Distinguished from the  detached formal essay by its friendly, conversational  tone, its loose structure, and its drive toward  candor and self-disclosure, the personal essay  seizes on the minutiae of daily life-vanities,  fashions, foibles, oddballs, seasonal rituals, love and  disappointment, the pleasures of solitude,  reading, taking a walk — to offer insight into the  human condition and the great social and political  issues of the day. The Art of the Personal  Essay is the first anthology to  celebrate this fertile genre. By presenting more than  seventy-five personal essays, including influential  forerunners from ancient Greece, Rome, and the  Far East, masterpieces from the dawn of the  personal essay in the sixteenth century, and a wealth of  the finest personal essays from the last four  centuries, editor Phillip Lopate, himself an  acclaimed essayist, displays the tradition of the  personal essay in all its historical grandeur, depth,  and diversity.

By presenting more than 75 personal essays, including influential forerunners from ancient Greece, Rome, and the Far East, masterpieces from the 16th century, and a wealth of the finest from the last four centuries, Lopate displays the tradition of the personal essay in all its grandeur, depth and diversity.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Essayist Lopate ( Against Joie de Vivre , Poseidon Pr., 1991, among others) has selected and introduced some 75 personal essays, covering over 400 years, from the East as well as the West, in an attempt to show the development of the genre. The result is a fascinating overview that could be useful in teaching situations. Given the personal nature of the pieces, it may also appeal to general readers who enjoy biography and autobiography. Lopate considers the personal essay to be a sort of friendship based on ``the supposition that there is a certain unity to human experience.'' He devotes extensive space to Montaigne, ``the patron saint of personal essayists,'' but we also hear from unfamiliar voices, such as a tenth-century Japanese court lady, and from special branches of the essay, such as the American humorists. Of interest to both academic and public libraries.-- Nancy Shires, East Carolina Univ., Greenville, N.C.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385422987
  • Publisher: Doubleday Publishing
  • Publication date: 1/1/1994
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 770
  • Product dimensions: 6.73 (w) x 9.54 (h) x 1.93 (d)

Meet the Author

Phillip Lopate
Phillip Lopate
Philip Lopate is the author of Against Joie de Vivre, Bachelorhood, The Rug Merchant, Being with Children, and Confessions of Summer. A recipient of Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, his works have appeared in Best American Essays, The Paris Review, Pushcart Prize annuals, and many other publications. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is Adams Professor of English at Hofstra University.
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