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Oxford Book English Essays

Now in a more readable format, this sweeping collection ranges from the early 1600s through the 1980s and includes 140 essays by 120 of the finest writers in the history of the English language. John Gross, former book critic for The New York Times, has collected classics and rare gems, representative samples and personal favorites, intimate essays and learned, serious refNow in a more readable format, this sweeping collection ranges from the early 1600s through the 1980s and includes 140 essays by 120 of the finest writers in the history of the English language. John Gross, former book critic for The New York Times, has collected classics and rare gems, representative samples and personal favorites, intimate essays and learned, serious reflections and hysterically funny satire, by both British and American writers. The authors Gross has gathered form a gallery of genius, all indispensable masters of rhetoric, from Samuel Butler to Samuel Johnson, from George Eliot to George Bernard Shaw, from John Dryden to Ben Franklin, from E.B. White to Joan Didion. Including book reviews and travel sketches, history lessons and meditations, reflections on art and on potato chips, these essays sample four centuries of eloquence and insight in a collection that is at once immensely enlightening, edifying, and entertaining....more

Paperback, 704 pages

Published May 16th 2002 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1991)

The essay is one of the richest of literary forms. Its most obvious characteristics are freedom, informality, and the personal touch - though it can also find room for poetry, satire, fantasy, and sustained argument.

All these qualities, and many others, are on display in The Oxford Book of Essays. The most wide-ranging collection of its kind to appear for many years, it includes 140 essays by 120 writers: classics, curiosities, meditations, diversions, old favourites, recent examples that deserve to be better known. A particularly welcome feature is the amount of space allotted to American essayists, from Benjamin Franklin to John Updike and beyond.

This is an anthology that opens with wise words about the nature of truth, and closes with a consideration of the novels of Judith Krantz. Some of the other topics discussed in its pages are anger, pleasure, Gandhi, Beau Brummell, wasps, party-going, gangsters, plumbers, Beethoven, potato crisps, the importance of being the right size, and the demolition of Westminster Abbey. It contains some of the most eloquent writing in English, and some of the most entertaining.