A Literary Education and Other Essaysby Published 10 Jun 2014
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A Literary Education and Other Essays PDF Book has good rating based on 112 votes and 17 reviews, some of the reviews are displayed in the box below, read carefully for reference. Find other related book of "A Literary Education and Other Essays" in the bottom area.
Who invented the personal essay? That is hard to say. The ancient Roman philosopher and cynical power broker, Seneca? The 16th century French philosopher Montaigne certainly brought it to a peak of perfection. There were many 19th century masters, not so many after that. Who is the greatest living essayist writing in English? That requires no debate at all. It is unquestionably Joseph Epstein. He is not only the best living essayist; he is right up there in the company of Seneca and Montaigne, but one of our own, living in our era and dealing with our pleasures and travails. Epstein is penetrating. He is witty. He has a magic touch with words, that hard to define but immediately recognizable quality called style. Above all, he is impossible to put down. Epstein reads omnivorously and brings us the best of what he reads, passages that we would never have found on our own. How easy it is today, in the digital age, drowning in emails and other ephemera, to forget the simple delight of reading for no intended purpose. Like any master essayist, however, this one brings us more than the shared experience of a lifetime of reading. He brings us himself, alternately scolding and charming, sparkling and deep, buoyant and sad, zany and wise, rebellious and conservative, bookworm and sports fan, clever and everyman, debunker and preservationist, deep into high culture, deep into low culture, curious, fresh, and settled in his ways. This is the friend we all wish we could have, the ideal, humane companion who is completely comfortable in his own human skin. Like Plutarch, he gives us life teaching by example, but with a wry smile and such a sure hand that we hardly notice the instruction. It is pure pleasure.
A Literary Education and Other Essays Reviews
Being a publicly - and self-celebrated essayist, the author writes with a breezy and erudite style, more of a New Yorker confidence instead of a pedantic earnestness. A few of his essays are insightful and edifying, while the others are acerbic cultural observations.
His first essay is perhaps the most insightful on on education. By quoting Professor Becker “too much in formal education has to do with quick response, with coughing up information quickly, and not enough leeway is allowed for reflection and brooding in the thoughtful way that serious subjects require", the author rightfully points toward the massive and profound failure in the education system.
A few essays ruminating on old age and death are amusing and warming. I found his biography rather too heavy on the raw stuff to be palatable, and these biographical details casts a long shadow on his present view on things and people.
A superbly fitting New Yorker essayist on past and present city lives.
*** PS: adding an excellent review of this book
An Essayist of the Old School – The Los Angeles Review of Books
Though more familiar with Jacob Epstein than Joseph Epstein, I enjoyed this eclectic collection of essays ... Despite his self-confessed bias as a Jewish Conservative, Epstein dealt with such topics as Education, Journalism, Culture and Language in an interesting fashion ... His 30-year stint of teaching at Northwestern, his membership on the Council of the National Endowment for the Arts, and his early involvement with the "intellectual" magazine served as credentials for his pronouncements ...
Through his vibrant, biting, occasionally hilarious short strikes, Epstein builds a convincing case for the well-read life. While these essays are broad in the both their subject and era, they show Epstein's progression as a young boy, student, writer, editor, and professor. Under all of this was Epstein's life mission to be an intellectual, and if his career's work is any indication, he has at least partially achieved this goal. Epstein's case for being well-read, for searching out writings on deep concepts, for reading musty old collections of poems and stories, and for developing your character (excuse the secularism) through fiction is that it forces one to adapt, to remain intellectually agile, and to be well groomed for myriad situations. He does not advocate for filling one's head with knowledge only applicable at trivia nights and cocktail parties, but does place weight in the ability to converse with anyone about almost any topic. These are different ends with different means. One forces recall, the other reflection.
In sum, this was a delightful collection. The sections on growing up, on culture, and on some of the great intellectual magazines, especially, were very enlightening.
I've long been a fan of Mr. Epstein and have read all of his books of essays both familiar and literary. Not to put too fine a point on it, Mr. Epstein has become a troglodyte. It appears that about the time Richard Nixon resigned from office, his politics changed from leftward leaning to strongly right leaning. Some of the essays in this book come off sounding poorly because of that change in politics - exactly what he accuses the left of. When he avoids the political slant and concentrates on memoir, language or biography, the essays in this volume are mostly as enjoyable as ever.
Epstein, Joseph. A Literary Education
Joseph Epstein in this fat volume has collected selections from his journalistic essays from 1959 to 2013. In his Introduction he confesses, not over-modestly, to having been compared to Montaigne, Lamb, Hazlitt and Beerbohm, and called ‘the best essayist writing in English.’ Most of the nay-sayers gave him comfort in the fact that ‘most have seemed to me unjust.’ No false modesty here and none needed in the body of the book, which is lively, varied and not without humour.
Pride of place is given to his 2008 essay ‘A Literary Education: On being Well-Versed in Literature.’ ‘The effect of a Literary Education,’ Epstein insists throughout the book, ‘is not to gainsay the usefulness of many ideas, but to understand their limitation.’ There you have it: ideas are of limited use, whereas a liberal education ‘provides an enhanced appreciation of the mysteries and complexities of life.’ I happen to underwrite this, but I’m less convinced by his notion that ‘the major difference between Tolstoy and Flaubert is that Tolstoy worked from life, Flaubert from ideas.’ Neither do I concur with Epstein’s view that the first line of Anna Karenina is a ‘splendid sentence.’ To me it’s simply a damned lie and should have no place in the book.
But quibble as one might over particulars, my guess is that Epstein’s boast that he is ‘arguably’ the best essayist writing today in English is probably true. The essayist - as distinct from the ‘columnist’ - is today regrettably a member of a dying species. On the evidence of this book alone I would have to lament this fact. Open the book at any page and you will be hooked on the perspicacity of its author. ‘How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One,’ ‘Who Killed Poetry?’ ‘Old Age and Other Laughs’ and ‘The Death of the Liberal Arts’ for all their disparity of subject and tone contain a unifying message: life is richer and more mysterious than our ideas about it; it is also more joyful and intellectually liberating.
As with Tristram Shandy the author offers us a melange of his ‘life and opinions.’ Unlike Sterne’s Tristram, however, Epstein is politically and socially aware. He is not shy of putting the boot in to self-publicists and pretenders, to deluded ‘socialists’ and members of InCAR (The International Committee Against Racism), spending long pages on the case of Barbara Foley, who in 1986 was threatened with suspension after organising a riot preventing a speaker from getting a hearing at Northwestern University. Typically, Epstein cites a campus joke asking ‘How many members of InCAR does it take to change a light bulb?’ ‘None,’ the answer is. ‘They don’t change it - they smash it.’