For more than 400 years the personal essay has been one of the richest and most vibrant of all literary forms. The Art of the Personal Essay is the first anthology to celebrate this lively, fertile genre. Distinguished from the formal essay by its friendly, conversational tone, its drive toward candor and confession, and its often quirky, first-person voice, the personal essay offers above all a feast of individuality. It seizes on the minutiae of daily life--fashions, rituals, vanities, family life, romantic foibles, the pleasures and pangs of solitude--and the great social and political issues of the day, from a daring opinionated perspective. Frequently humorous, the personal essay is perhaps the most instantly approachable and divertingly human type of nonfiction.This robust tradition is represented here by more than seventy-five essays, beginning with influential forerunners from ancient Rome (Seneca, Plutarch) and the Far East to the mastering of the form by its sixteenth-century founder, Michel de Montaigne; through the golden age of the English essay (from Addision & Steele and Samuel Johnson through Orwell and Woolf) to its variegated outcroppings in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa, and its efflorescence in the United States.
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.
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.
"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.