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For more than four hundred years, the personal essay has been
one of the richest and most vibrant of all literary forms.
Distinguished from the detached formal essay by its friendly,
conversational tone, its loose structure, and its drive
toward candor and self-disclosure, the personal essay seizes on
the minutiae of daily life-vanities, fashions, foibles,
oddballs, seasonal rituals, love and disappointment, the
pleasures of solitude, reading, taking a walk -- to offer
insight into the human condition and the great social and
political issues of the day. The Art of the Personal Essay
is the first anthology to celebrate this fertile genre. By
presenting more than seventy-five personal essays, including
influential forerunners from ancient Greece, Rome, and the Far
East, masterpieces from the dawn of the personal essay in
the sixteenth century, and a wealth of the finest personal
essays from the last four centuries, editor Phillip Lopate,
himself an acclaimed essayist, displays the tradition of the
personal essay in all its historical grandeur, depth,