the North American master of this form. My wife, Hélène Atwan, kindly read over portions of the manuscript and offered many valuable suggestions for which I am very grateful. But occasionally I thought it would be misleading to use the final date of publication. Her fiction alone demonstrates considerable variety, ranging from direct naturalism to complex experiments in form.
Self-approval is acquired mainly from the approval of other people. When I was very young, my father purchased a small, uniform set of cheap literary classics. It can't be an accident that the essays in this volume by men and women of ethnic minority backgrounds are outstanding; to paraphrase Melville, to write a "mighty" work of prose you must have a "mighty" theme. QPB and History Book Club selections; bomc alternate. Other essays in this book were also put to service by their authors to introduce works of fiction: Richard Wright's "The Ethics of Living Jim Crow" became the preface to his collection of stories Uncle Tom's Children, and. Nearly all of the source notes attached to each essay derive from her dogged research; without her assistance this project might have taken another year to complete.
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Who could resist the first sentence of Zora Neale Hurston's piece:I am colored but I offer nothing in the way of extenuating circumstances except the fact that I am the only Negro in the United States whose grandfather on the mother's side was not. (But all these essays are gems.) In general, our patience tends to wear thin when we're confronted with sermonizing in its many forms; I most often encountered such essays among those published in the first four or five decades of the century, when magazines seemed. The more elusive the subject, the more verbose the style, as in two fascinating masterpieces of ellipsis, indirection, and irresolution by Henry James at his most baroque, "Is There a Life after Death?" (1910) and "Within the Rim" (1915). Who were the readers of these essays, I wondered. The two most influential literary essays of the twentieth century are perhaps. If you will substitute "literature" for "poetry" in this famous remark in a letter of Emily Dickinson's, you have my basic criterion for the work included in The Best American Essays of the Century: "If I read a book and it makes my whole body.
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