A Literary Education and Other EssayseBook - 2014
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.
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