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.
"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.