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.
John Gross is the author of 'The Rise and Fall of the Man of Letters' (1973) and editor of 'The Oxford Book of Aphorisms' (1983), among other publications. He was editor of the Times Literary Supplement from 1974 to 1981, and is currently theatre critic of the Sunday Telegraph.
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The Oxford Book of Essays by John Gross
Oxford Books of Prose & Verse
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Oxford University Press
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