Understanding the Essay

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Patricia Foster, Jeff Porter
Broadview Press, Jul 25, 2012 - Literary Collections - 280 pages
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This is a book on how to read the essay, one that demonstrates how reading is inextricably tied to the art of writing. It aims to treat the essay with the close attention that has been given to other literary genres, and in doing so it suggests the beauty and depth of the form as a whole. At once personal appreciations and acute critical assessments, the pieces collected here broaden our perspective on the essay as a major literary art, tracing its history from William Hazlitt to Joan Didion.

 

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Contents

Introduction to David Foster Wallace
1
ReadingA Supposedly Fun Thing Ill Never Do Again Jeff Porter
2
Introduction to Anne Carson
13
ReadingOn Trout Eula Biss
14
Introduction to Jamaica Kincaid
17
Reading A Small Place Donald Morrill
19
Introduction to Scott Russell Sanders
31
ReadingUnder the InfluenceJames McKean
32
ReadingThe Little Man in Chehaw Station Gayle Pemberton
121
Introduction to George Orwell
129
ReadingA Hanging Carl H Klaus
131
Introduction to F Scott Fitzgerald
147
ReadingThe CrackUp Patricia Hampl
149
Introduction to Virginia Woolf
163
ReadingStreet Haunting Marilyn Abildskov
165
Introduction to Mark Twain
177

Introduction to Joy Williams
43
ReadingThe Case Against Babies Sara Levine
44
Introduction to Joan Didion
53
ReadingGeorgia OKeeffe Patricia Foster
55
Introduction to John McPhee
67
Reading Encounters with the Archdruid Adam Hochschild
68
Introduction to Cynthia Ozick
79
ReadingA Drugstore in Winter Sven Birkerts
81
Introduction to James Baldwin
91
ReadingNotes of a Native Son Honor Moore
93
Introduction to Seymour Krim
109
ReadingFor My Brothers and Sisters in the Failure Business Vivian Gornick
111
Introduction to Ralph Ellison
119
ReadingTo the Person Sitting in Darkness Robin Hemley
178
Introduction to William Hazlitt
191
ReadingOn the Pleasure of Hating Phillip Lopate
193
Introduction to Charles Lamb
205
ReadingNew Years Eve David Lazar
206
Introduction to Jonathan Swift
219
ReadingA Modest Proposal Xu Xi
221
Introduction to Michel de Montaigne
233
ReadingOn Some Verses of Virgil David Hamilton
235
Key Terms for the Essay
249
Contributors
255
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

Patricia Foster is the author of All the Lost Girls (2000) and Just beneath My Skin (2004) and the forthcoming novel Girl from Soldier Creek (2012). She has received a PEN/Jerard Fund Award for nonfiction, a Florida Arts Council Award, a Dean’s Scholar Award, and the Fred Bonnie Award for a first novel. She is Professor of English at the University of Iowa, where she teaches in the MFA Program in Nonfiction.

Jeff Porter is the author of Oppenheimer Is Watching Me (2007). His essays have appeared in Antioch Review, Isotope, Northwest Review, Shenandoah, Missouri Review, Hotel Amerika, Wilson Quarterly, Contemporary Literature, Blackbird, and other journals. He is Associate Professor of English at the University of Iowa, where he teaches in the MFA Program in Nonfiction.

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