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The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present Paperback – 1 Jun 1995

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 777 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Books; 1st Anchor Books Pbk. Ed edition (1 Jun. 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038542339X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385422987
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 4.4 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 144,191 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

" A wonderful book. The most charming smorgasbord imaginable of essays from around the world." -- Diane Cole, "USA Today,"
" Without a doubt, this is the most nourishing essay collection I've read in years." -- Susan Burmeister-Brown, "Portland Oregonian,"
" A labor of deeply felt love and keenly honed scholarship by an essay authority who knows his territory down to his bones." -- "Christian Science Monitor,"
" The best available [essay anthology] no matter how crowded the field." -- "Chicago Tribune,"
" The striking thing is how much Lopate has managed to pack in, and how high a standard he has managed to maintain." -- John Gross, "New York Newsday,"
" Packed with personality and beguiling first-person prose... of reminders of the perils and pleasures of the craft." -- "The Wall Street Journal,"

"A wonderful book. The most charming smorgasbord imaginable of essays from around the world." -- Diane Cole, "USA Today."
"Without a doubt, this is the most nourishing essay collection I've read in years." -- Susan Burmeister-Brown, "Portland Oregonian."
"A labor of deeply felt love and keenly honed scholarship by an essay authority who knows his territory down to his bones." -- "Christian Science Monitor."
"The best available [essay anthology] no matter how crowded the field." -- "Chicago Tribune."
"The striking thing is how much Lopate has managed to pack in, and how high a standard he has managed to maintain." -- John Gross, "New York Newsday."
"Packed with personality and beguiling first-person prose... of reminders of the perils and pleasures of the craft." -- "The Wall Street Journal."

"A wonderful book. The most charming smorgasbordimaginable of essays from around the world."-- Diane Cole, "USA Today."
"Without a doubt, this is the mostnourishing essay collection I've read in years."-- Susan Burmeister-Brown, "PortlandOregonian."
"A labor of deeplyfelt love and keenly honed scholarship by anessay authority who knows his territory down to hisbones." -- "Christian ScienceMonitor."
"The best available [essayanthology] no matter how crowded the field."-- "Chicago Tribune."
"The striking thing is how much Lopate has managedto pack in, and how high a standard he hasmanaged to maintain." -- John Gross, "NewYork Newsday."
"Packed withpersonality and beguiling first-person prose... ofreminders of the perils and pleasures of thecraft." -- "The Wall StreetJournal.""

From the Inside Flap

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.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Ah, the 'personal essay' - what we used to call the essay tout court, before we ditched it, along with grammar, and one of the things modern-day America does best. (English bookshops hardly have a space to display them; if it's not specifically literary or scientific it might as well not exist.) Its French origin was of course never bruited (tales out of school) though there are classical antecedents and indeed Lopate kicks off with a sententious piece of Seneca, followed - boum! - by a stunningly stoical* piece on asthma, which Seneca sees 'no reason' to dignify by calling anything other than shortage of breath (coiners of ADD, bipolar and other jargon please note: labelling is part of the problem). Are you hooked yet?

There will be discoveries; there will be disappointments. I was saddened to see George Orwell describe life 'between seven and eighteen, say' as 'walking the tightrope over a cesspool'. We knew you were 'by nature not gregarious', George, but do for heaven's sake buck up! He moans that at school only one hot bath was allowed a week; how could he not know that this was quite the norm in households of moderate means? Just as there was washing day, there was bath night. (But India may have encouraged different habits.) Though Lopate includes a substantial 'other cultures' section, including a solitary Irishman, the modern Americans, surprisingly, don't get that much of a look-in - though there are *seventy* pages of Montaigne, for Pete's sake! - suggesting this was projected as a (rather unwieldy) textbook which at its heart cleaves rather more closely to the Oxford Book of Essays than one might have hoped. No matter - it's a start, and leaves Lopate scope, should he so wish, for his own personal, rather than representative, book of the genre

*A Stoic was exactly what he was, of course, as well as a spectacularly bad playwright
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Format: Paperback
One of my favorite books - it has a eclectic, rich, and well-thought collection of the greatest essays from the classical to the modern era. Entertaining and meditative at the same time.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book really makes the personal essay stand as a genre, a very fruitful one. To witness the free and surprising development of the mind of each writer is a joy of the personal essays compiled and introduced by Lopate.
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Arrived in excellent condition
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x95974dc8) out of 5 stars 50 reviews
69 of 71 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9601905c) out of 5 stars Excellent reading to further enhance your writing !! 8 Jan. 2002
By (=^_^=) Broncos Fan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
It's clear that reading good literature leads to improved writing. This anthology is a superb collection, selected and introduced by Phillip Lopate. Lopate is said to be one of the best essayists and critics of the personal essay. The book identifies itself as a "Teachers & Writers Collaborative Book". It is absolutely wonderful, a thick, heavy book full of pleasure and is dubbed as the "first anthology to celebrate this lively, fertile genre."

In his introduction, Lopate says of the personal essay: The hallmark of the personal essay is its intimacy. The writer seems to be speaking directly into your ear, confiding everything from gossip to wisdom. Through sharing thoughts, memories, desires, complaints, and whimsies, the personal essayist sets up a relationship with the reader, a dialogue, a friendship, if you will, based on identification, understanding, testiness, and companionship.

The introduction is with rich detail of everything you ever needed to know about the "personal essay". He delves into his selection, rationale and arrangement of this book. As I said, everything you ever needed to know is here!

The collection consists of 75 personal essays, spanning over 400 years. The first section is called the forerunners, these are the earliest dating from 1600's, including: Seneca, Plutarch, Kenko, Shonagon, Hsiu, Michel De Montaigne. Then, the rise of the English essay: Abraham Cowley, Addison & Steele, Samuel Johnson, Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginia Woolf, Orwell, etc.

Another section is titled "Other Cultures, Other Continents", some listed are: Ivan Turgenev, Lu Hsun, Jorge Luis Borges, Roland Barthes, etc. Last section is titled "American Scene" includes: Thoreau, Thurber, McCarthy, Fitzgerald, E.B. White, Baldwin, Didion, Lopate, etc., etc.

Then, he has all essays in a table of contents categorized by "Theme and Form". Some types of theme are are: ambition, city life, country living, death, drugs & alcohol, disability & illness, food, family ties, leisure, love and sexuality, music, nature, walking, race & ethnicity etc. etc.

The classifications of essays under "Form" list: analytical meditation, consolation, diatribe, humor, list, mossaic, memoir, etc., etc. Many of the essays may be cross-referenced into a few different classifications.

If you consider writing essay, this is a great tool and a real keeper. ..Rizzo
43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x960190b0) out of 5 stars Excellent Anthology!!! 23 Nov. 2004
By JR Pinto - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Laurie Stone, the essayist and creative writing teacher, recommended this book to me as the most essential volume on the personal essay. I could not agree more. The editor, Philip Lopate, is one of the most well-respected authors of the personal essay and he has compiled this anthology of pieces from the classical era to the present. The book works well for readers and writers alike. Lopate, in his lengthy introduction, gives an overview of the personal essay, and instructions on how to use this book as a learning tool. It is divided into several sections, beginning with the essay's forerunners in the classical period. Michel De Montaigne, the father of the personal essay, gets his own section. Personally, I did not find it useful to read the book cover-to-cover - I read it in reverse. I started out with the most recent, contemporary essays - those most accessible to me - and went backwards in order to see the devolution of the essay, as it were.

The essay is fast becoming one of my favorite forms - it is short, funny, and insightful. I highly recommend this book to ANYONE.
46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9601938c) out of 5 stars Best Anthology on the Market for Personal Essays 18 Oct. 1999
By Jadepearl - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A book that has travelled with me for years and well worth all the space in my limited luggage space. I would definitely take this book to a desert island and it would be a book that I would grab off its shelf if my house was on fire.
Time has made me appreciate the voices contained within its cover greatly.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x960198b4) out of 5 stars THE Personal Essay Anthology 26 Nov. 2003
By FJC - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
There are a lot of really poor essay anthologies on the market. This is not one of them. Lopate himself is an accomplished writer, but he does his readers the great favor of including a broad range of authors, temporally and experientially. Many anthologies skip the masters (Montaigne, Orwell, Johnson) in favor of more modern--and less talented--authors. If you are looking for a single anthology of essays this is the one. It covers the entire genre like no other. And it is comparitively cheap too.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x960198cc) out of 5 stars Amazing Compilation 27 May 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The book opens with a terrific overview of the personal essay. Not only does it discuss the place of creative nonfiction in the writing spectrum but it gets to the heart of the personal essay -how we express the human experience. Lopate walks us, the average reader, through the choosing and the parceling of these kinds of works and by the end we are prepared for the well laid journey ahead.
The voices are so varied - from George Orwell's beautifully written essay on life in a British boarding school to James Baldwin's piece on his father's death and life as a Black man in America. We feel with each author, cry with them and share in their triumphs. Though the styles are quite different from one author to the next, the common thread is each person's love of writing, their adept manipulation of language, and the most important element of the essay - their honesty in each line.
This is an excellent choice for those are learning the art of creative nonfiction or for those more seasoned readers or writers who truly want a satisfying read.
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