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Essays of E. B. White (Perennial Classics) Paperback – October 3, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 364 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics; Reprint edition (October 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060932236
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060932237
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Some of the finest examples of contemporary, genuinely American prose.” (Washington Post)

About the Author

E. B. White, the author of such beloved classics as Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan, was born in Mount Vernon, New York. He graduated from Cornell University in 1921 and, five or six years later, joined the staff of The New Yorker magazine, then in its infancy. He died on October 1, 1985, and was survived by his son and three grandchildren.

Mr. White's essays have appeared in Harper's magazine, and some of his other books are: One Man's Meat, The Second Tree from the Corner, Letters of E. B. White, Essays of E. B. White, and Poems and Sketches of E. B. White. He won countless awards, including the 1971 National Medal for Literature and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, which commended him for making a "substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children."

During his lifetime, many young readers asked Mr. White if his stories were true. In a letter written to be sent to his fans, he answered, "No, they are imaginary tales . . . But real life is only one kind of life—there is also the life of the imagination."


More About the Author

E.B. White, the author of twenty books of prose and poetry, was awarded the 1970 Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal for his children's books, Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web. This award is now given every three years "to an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have, over a period of years, make a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children." The year 1970 also marked the publication of Mr. White's third book for children, The Trumpet of the Swan, honored by The International Board on Books for Young People as an outstanding example of literature with international importance. In 1973, it received the Sequoyah Award (Oklahoma) and the William Allen White Award (Kansas), voted by the school children of those states as their "favorite book" of the year.

Born in Mount Vernon, New York, Mr. White attended public schools there. He was graduated from Cornell University in 1921, worked in New York for a year, then traveled about. After five or six years of trying many sorts of jobs, he joined the staff of The New Yorker magazine, then in its infancy. The connection proved a happy one and resulted in a steady output of satirical sketches, poems, essays, and editorials. His essays have also appeared in Harper's Magazine, and his books include One Man's Meat, The Second Tree from the Corner, Letters of E.B. White, The Essays of E.B. White and Poems and Sketches of E.B. White. In 1938 Mr. White moved to the country. On his farm in Maine he kept animals, and some of these creatures got into his stories and books. Mr. White said he found writing difficult and bad for one's disposition, but he kept at it. He began Stuart Little in the hope of amusing a six-year-old niece of his, but before he finished it, she had grown up.

For his total contribution to American letters, Mr. White was awarded the 1971 National Medal for Literature. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy named Mr. White as one of thirty-one Americans to receive the Presidential Medal for Freedom. Mr. White also received the National Institute of Arts and Letters' Gold Medal for Essays and Criticism, and in 1973 the members of the Institute elected him to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a society of fifty members. He also received honorary degrees from seven colleges and universities. Mr. White died on October 1, 1985.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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The essays gave an interesting perspective on his life through the decades.
Elizabeth J. Heil
Every now & then, when I need to be reminded what really good writing is, this is the book I turn to.
Karin & Robert Baumgardner
Never,pedantic, never clever for its own sake, never pretentious, always clear, simple and beautiful.
adeamus

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Jena Ball on February 14, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Most folks will know E.B. White as the author of Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little, or as the eminently practical voice of reason in The Elements of Style. However, White was also an accomplished essayist, turning out pieces for The New Yorker and Harpers on a regular basis for many years.
What I like about White's essays is that they can be counted on to be insightful, amusing and well-written. White approaches an essay like a pleasant conversation. He's been thinking about New York and its inhabitants, he will tell you, and this what he's come up with. On another occasion it may be the personality quirks of his old dachshund Fred, or the controversy over white versus brown eggs. Anything and everything is food for thought, although you can be sure that White will broaden the scope of his topics to include the world at large. New York, he concludes, is a concentrated version of many worlds, "...bringing to a single arena the gladiator, the evangelist, the promoter, the actor, the trader, and the merchant." Fred, the dachshund, was "...the Cecil B. deMille of dogs. He was a zealot, and I have just been reminded of him by a quote from one of the Democrats..." And the white versus brown egg debate, White concludes, is simply a matter of what you're used to. Personally he prefers brown, and can recommend the egg of the Silver Cross, whose egg is "...so richly brown, so wondrously beautiful as to defy description."
Best of all, White's insightful commentary does not require intense concentration or endless analysis to get the gist of what he is trying to say. You can sit back and relax when you pick up a book of his essays, knowing you won't have to grapple with unfamiliar or awkward language. This is not to imply that you won't find yourself thinking about what he has to say.
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40 of 40 people found the following review helpful By MOVIE MAVEN on June 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
I never read E.B. White as a child although all of my friends were very much into "Charlotte's Web" and "The Trumpet of the Swan." Perhaps it was because the only other Stuart I'd ever heard of was White's mouse/hero with the last name Little...a fact that my schoolmates teased me with throughout grade school.
....
White has got to be one of the finest writers I've ever read, expressing in 5 graceful words what it takes others paragraphs to do. His descriptions of life in Maine are priceless for anyone, like me, who has longed to let the country boy deep down inside sit back and "smell the roses." And,of course, Maine is still one of the few places in the U.S. that is relatively city poison-free.
Read White's opening sentence in his brilliant "Here Is New York" which is, arguably, the best appreciation of this all-too-crazy city: "On any person who desires such queer prizes, New York will bestow the gift of loneliness and the gift of privacy." Where did he write those words? "...in a stifling hotel room in 90-degree heat, halfway down an air shaft, in midtown." At the end of this wonderful, wonderful essay (which, by the way has been re-printed, all by itself, in a beautifully illustrated paperback) White contemplates an old Willow tree in the Turtle Bay area and he writes, "This must be saved,this particular thing, this very tree. If it were to go, all would go--this city, this mischievous and marvelous monument which not to look upon would be like death."
What other essayist expresses his thoughts and ours so unself-consciously, so economically and, yes, so magnificently? None that I have come across. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 17, 1998
Format: Paperback
Although he is best known for his children's books, including Charlotte's Web and the Trumpet of the Swan, author E.B. White's primary trade was the personal essay. In this remarkable collection, White brought together the premier essays of his seventy-year career, grouped into broad themes. This collection contains a mixture of period pieces from his years at the New Yorker magazine, including "Here is New York," and perceptive pieces on everyday events of life, such as "What Do Our Hearts Treasure?" Each essay brings a smart outlook toward life, an incredible ability to describe ordinary events vividly, and the melancholy and sentimental perspective that dominated White's life. This is undoubtedly the finest collection of American essays in the twentieth century.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Peggy Vincent on June 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
Too bad there is/was only one E. B. White; too bad he couldn't have lived for ever. He will always remain as one of the best American essayists while at the same time continuing to earn acclaim for several other books that will always stay in print: childhood classics Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little, as well as the newer edition of Elements of Style.
But his essays! Oh, they are so good, so rambling and thoughtful and gently pointed, many humorous while still making a deep and important impression. Anyone who strives to write good prose must read these essays to find out how a master did it and made it look easy. The first one in this volume, Death of a Pig, could serve as a lesson in How to Write.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
Wow. This book is a treasure chest; I resorted to folding the corners of dozens of pages so I could easily relocate some of its gems.
You will hate reaching the end of this book, but you will come away with renewed powers to observe life's little treasures of daily experience.
Seeing the world through the eyes of E. B. White is an inspiring privelege, and this book enables that. If books were cookies, this one would win a whopping big prize.
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