A Review of The Art of the Personal Essay by Phillip Lopate

It’s little wonder that this hefty tome convinced me to put more of my reading focus into essays. I’ve yet to read the entries contained within this particular anthology, but I already hold this book close to me as if it were a prized possession. This all seems a bit premature of me I know, but I think I have good reason. Not only does a quick sweep of the contents tell me that The Art of the Personal Essay is a comprehensive and wide-ranging study of the form, but through my affinity with anything New York City I already know that has exquisite skill in editing anthologies (mainly through his editing of the equally weighty tome, (Library of America)). Before I go on to tell you something more of the content, I’ll let the cover blurb have its say:

The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present

So there’s a quick rundown on how The Art of the Personal Essay is presented, and I’m sure you’ll agree it offers something of an exciting reading prospect. It’s difficult to say for sure of course without first working through the anthology, but if you’ve ever had the pleasure of reading anything that Philip Lopate has been involved in, then you will know that he knows his stuff ESPECIALLY when it comes to the personal essay.


Introduction to "The Art of the Personal Essay"

The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present Summary

The personal essay offers a feast of individuality, and The Art of the Personal Essay is the first anthology to celebrate this rich and vibrant literary form. More than seventy-five essays represent this robust tradition, beginning with influential forerunners from ancient Rome and the Far East and ranging from the mastery of the essay’s sixteenth-century founder, Michel de Montaigne, and the golden age of the English essay, to its variegated outcroppings in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa and its efflorescence in the United States. With generous selections by writers from around the world, as well as an illuminating introduction by Philip Lopate, himself an acclaimed essayist, The Art of the Personal Essay is a landmark collection of brilliant, discerning, and immensely entertaining writing.