Top positive review
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Excellent reading to further enhance your writing !!
on January 8, 2002
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