A monumental, canon-defining anthology of three centuries of American essays, from Cotton Mather and Benjamin Franklin to David Foster Wallace and Zadie Smith.
The essay form is an especially democratic one, and many of the essays Phillip Lopate has gathered here address themselves--sometimes critically--to American values. We see the Puritans, the Founding Fathers and Mothers, and the stars of the American Renaissance struggle to establish a national culture. A grand tradition of nature writing runs from Audubon, Thoreau, and John Muir to Rachel Carson and Annie Dillard. Marginalized groups use the essay to assert or to complicate notions of identity. Lopate has cast his net wide, embracing critical, personal, political, philosophical, literary, polemical, autobiographical, and humorous essays. Americans by birth as well as immigrants appear here, famous essayists alongside writers more celebrated for fiction or poetry. The result is a dazzling overview of the riches of the American essay.
"Not only an education but a joy. This is a book for the ages." --Rivka Galchen
About the Author
PHILLIP LOPATE is the author of To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction and four essay collections: Bachelorhood, Against Joie de Vivre, Portrait of My Body, and Portrait Inside My Head. He is the editor of the anthologies The Art of the Personal Essay, Writing New York, and American Movie Critics. He was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a Cullman Center Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts grants, and two New York Foundation for the Arts grants. He is a professor of writing at Columbia University's nonfiction MFA program, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
“Lopate’s look at three centuries of essays emphasizes how writers have wrestled, explicitly or sub-textually, with America’s national values.” —Publishers Weekly’s TOP 10 new titles in Essays & Literary Criticism “I can’t think of anyone better suited than Phillip Lopate to put together an anthology like this. It fully deserves to takes its place alongside The Art of the Personal Essay as an indispensable volume." —Geoff Dyer, author of Broadsword Calling Danny Boy
“Phillip Lopate is one of the most brilliant and original essayists now working. . . . He has sustained the lively openness of the student who observes and hypothesizes, refusing, admirably, to harden into the judge. . . . He is a master, and also a joy to read.” —Louise Glück
“Phillip Lopate has earned his place at the center of our literary culture. A superb essayist, he also teaches, edits, [and] bestows order and perspective on this ever diversifying genre. The Glorious American Essay, showcases some of the best of what Whitman in another context called ‘our varied carols.’” —Sven Birkerts, author of The Gutenberg Elegies and The Art of Time in Memoir “A is a thrilling tour through that most elusive jungle—the American Mind—over the course of nearly 300 years. There could be no better guide than Phillip Lopate. An invaluable anthology. It should be included in the library of anyone who has even a passing interest in American literature.” —Michael Greenberg, author ofHurry Down Sunshine
“As we struggle to come to grips with where America has come from and where it is heading, I can’t imagine a better guide than Phillip Lopate’s The Glorious American Essay. His selection of incisive essays—from Cotton Mather and Nathaniel Hawthorne through Marilynne Robinson and Zadie Smith—charts the course of the great and flawed American experiment. It’s a timely and invaluable anthology.” —James Shapiro, author of Shakespeare in a Divided America
“What’s marvelous is the way Lopate’s anthologies—and this new American collection is no exception—manage to be not only comprehensive monuments of deep expertise, but such continuously fresh and thrilling reading companions, right through the biographical notes.” —Jonathan Lethem, author of The Feral Detective
“Shaped by Phillip Lopate's tremendous intellect and curiosity, The Glorious American Essay is at once monumental and companionable. The American house of prose has more windows and doors than we had imagined, making this anthology not only an education, but a joy. This is a book for the ages.” —Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances