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Essays of E.B. White

4.34 of 5 stars 4.34  ·  rating details  ·  2,033 ratings  ·  195 reviews
The essays in this companion volume to the Letters of E. B. White have been selected by White himself, from a lifetime of writing. "I have chosen the ones that have amused me in the rereading," he writes in the Foreword, "along with a few that seemed to have the odor of durability clinging to them." The Essays of E. B. White are incomparable; like his Letters, this is a vo ...more
Hardcover, 277 pages
Published October 19th 1978 by Harper & Row (first published 1977)
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Like the majority of American liberal artists, I know E.B. White principally from his editorial work. The Elements of Style was the principal explicit force behind my own understanding of the sentence and the essay, and I assumed its writer would possess that bright cogency that tickles the alert reader into giggles.

I also knew E.B. White as the author of books for children, and though it has been nearly two decades since I read Charlotte's Web, I remember vividly the story and the prematurely
Here are some of the opening sentences found in this collection of essays.

To come upon an article in the Times called "The Meaning of Brown Eggs" was an unexpected pleasure.
Someone told me the other day that a seagull won't eat a smelt.
I spent several days and nights in mid-September with an ailing pig.
Mosquitoes have arrived with the warm nights, and our bedchamber is their theater under the stars.
I wasn't really prepared for the World's Fair last week, and it certainly wasn't prepared for
I took my time reading these essays, one at a time, over the past summer. It ended up being one of the best reading experiences I've had.

To quote E.B. White - "As a writing man, or secretary, I have always felt charged with the safekeeping of all unexpected items of worldly and unworldly enchantment, as though I might be held personally responsible if even a small one were to be lost."

That's exactly the thought behind each of these pieces, and reading them, you're always anxious to discover whic
It turns out E. B. White is clever, warm, and eloquent-- as the writer of Elements of Style ought to be. He writes about pretty much everything: books, politics, the city, the country, his rattletrap car, the debate on brown vs. white eggs, all with both ease and conviction.

"All that I ever hope to say in books is that I love the world. I guess you can find it there, if you dig around." That's what E. B. White has to say for himself. And if you don't love the world already, reading these essays
I knew this would be a five-star book after reading the very first line. I often find that a large amount of non-fiction books are written by people who White calls (himself included), "sustained by the childish belief that everything he or she thinks is of general interest." So White admits this elephant in the room straight away, so you can get on with reading the rest of his works. It is quite amazing how, though he wrote closer over half a century ago, many of the ideas he discusses are stil ...more
I picked up this book for three reasons: simple booklust; my life-long infatuation with E.B. White's writing; and the inclusion of the essay "Here is New York."

In the preface, White wrote of "Here is New York" that it had been seriously affected by the passage of time, and that the city he described in the summer of 1948 seemed to him to have disappeared and been reborn. But a lot of it still sounds right to me.

Here, then, are the opening lines of "Here is New York":

"On any person who desires s
If you occasionally find your foot lost of its purchase on the bicycle pedal while speeding down a death-defying San Francisco hill - minus the bicycle and minus the hill - then the essays of E.B. White should be immediately looked into. White's work is thoroughly grounding. Whether he's enumerating the pleasures of his Home Crawford 8-20 wood-burning kitchen stove, his boulder in the pasture woods where he retreats when he's disenchanted or frightened, his geese, his pig, the local raccoon, his ...more
i read this to learn how it's done when it's done in finest form. i read this to shout hallelujah at the end of a marvelous sentence, or at the choice of a word that takes my breath away. i read this to wipe tears from my cheeks. i read this to laugh out loud and mercilessly.

this book is the holy mecca for those of us who can't stop believing in the power of word to burrow deep within the human heart and take us hostage, to clomp onto a brain cell and draw pictures we've never seen before. the
This book was a favorite of a great friend of mine (who gifted it to me in high school, incidentally) and I just now decided to dip back into it because I've been trying to do more narrative non-fiction reading and White's essay "Death of a Pig" was referenced by two different authors (Geraldine Brooks and Ian Reid) during a writing workshop I attended in the spring.

There are some lovely essays here—the paean to the pig, yes, but I was also in a bit of a country mode and really enjoyed "Coon Tr
I spent the winter reading this book. I have always loved E.B. White's fictional books, and reading them again out loud with my kids was a treat twice because I got to see them enjoy them and I got to enjoy them anew as an adult. Is there anything so wonderful as the sadness of Wilbur in Charlotte's Web? And I really think that Trumpet of the Swam might be one of the best books ever written about living with a learning disability -- for adults or kids.

But earlier this year when I went searching
"In New York, a citizen is likely to keep on the move, shopping for the perfect arrangement of rooms and vistas, changing his habitation according to fortune, whim, and need. And in every place he abandons he leaves something vital, it seems to me, and starts his new life somewhat less encrusted, like a lobster that has shed its skin and is for a time soft and vulnerable." (7)

"No matter what changes take place in the world, or in me, nothing ever seems to disturb the face of spring." (17)

"I woul
Tress Huntley

I recently read a different collection of White essays from the New Yorker called Essays from the New Yorker that was compiled by someone other than White, and while I enjoyed both, I liked that first collection better. In this collection, White selected which of his essays to include. Some of his choices leaned heavily toward the nostalgic which probably pleased him but less so the reader. I guess that's bound to happen.

I particularly enjoy the essays that reflect on White's youth, like the Y
what i loved about these essays--i read most but not all--was how white so effortlessly moves around from idea to story to idea, and so on. "the drift" of his prose, as my friend dana put it. there's smart, elegant meditations on life and death as filtered through e.b.'s hobby farm experiences, interesting tales of his adventures as a younger man, and a number of essays, written in the fifties and sixties, that handle the topic of racial segregation. it struck me as i read those, that i'd read a ...more
There's no excuse for not having read this much, much sooner. When I wasn't laughing at White's dry humor, I was marveling at how incredibly well-crafted each sentence was, each turn of phrase. Nearly every other page featured a passage that I wanted to copy out or add to my Goodreads quotes. I did skip a few essays that seemed dated or didn't interest me, but almost every other one was a gem, including his account of a trip to Alaska, his reflections on life in rural Maine, his elegy for the ra ...more
I am embarassed to admit that I had previously only read "Once More to the Lake" (in college) and "Here Is New York" (which I have a lovely, old illustrated edition of that I treasure). White's writing is so vivid, the joy with which he manipulates language so palpable, and his ability to structure his thoughts so elegant that I couldn't put this down once I started reading. It's the first book in a long time that I found myself cancelling plans and being late to appointments in deference to. An ...more
Ed Cottingham
This is a great collection of White's essays and includes several that have frequently appeared in general anthologies. Among my favorites are: The Eye of Edna, Bedfellows, Farewell My Lovely, and The St. Nicholas League.

*****Spoiler alert...exerpts ahead****

Farewell My Lovely is White's famous tribute to the Model T Ford and its era. This was a time when no one expected to motor very far without flat tires -- at the least -- and very likely some more serious mechanical problems. One particularl
As a child, I enjoyed several of E.B. White's novels; "Charlotte's Web", "The Mouse and the Motorcycle", and "The Trumpet of the Swan" come to mind primarily when I think of him as an author. Reading White's essays provided another perspective on both his writing and his worldview. I will admit that I have never been a great fan of the essay; I much prefer reading novels to reading nonfiction, but White's skilled prose and ability to create a sense of nostalgia in his descriptions drew me in. Am ...more
E B White was and remains one of the great essayists of the twentieth century. I found the collection One Man's Meat to be a better collection of the author's work but that is as much a question of personal taste as anything else. For me it is a very interesting read when White's essays touch on the events of my hometown that were happening as I grew up.

The opening essay " Goodbye to Forty Eighth Street " is notable as White reflects on his visit to The Fryeburg Fair while contrasting those eve
Ismael Galvan
I've never gotten into essays, but maybe I am now after reading the Essays of E.B. White. My first encounter with White, not counting Charlotte's Web, was the The Elements of Style, which I consider one of the most essential and practical books in writing. Seeing that I have an essay exam coming up, I thought his essays should reflect the school of clear prose advocated in the Elements of Style. This collection turned out to be more than ordinary study material.

The essays were written from 1934
Karen Floyd
"The essayist is a self-liberated man, sustained by the childish belief that everything he thinks about, everything that happens to him, is of general interest. He is a fellow who thoroughly enjoys his work, just as people who take bird walks enjoy theirs. Each new excursion of the essayist, each new "attempt," differs from the last and takes him into new country. Only a person who is congenitally self-centered has the effrontery and the stamina to write essays." Who could resist such a disclaim ...more
Some of these essays are five star worthy and timeless as well as elegant. Others didn't hold my interest as well but mostly due to the topic itself. White's zest for life and all things living is beautiful. I was surprised at his humor and loved his wit. I definitely found a kindred spirit and will ponder some of his musings for a long time.
These essays are utterly brilliant: fresh, clear, and graceful, witty, thought-provoking, and often prescient. I'd only ever read White's children's books and bits and pieces of his New Yorker writing before, but I can see that I'm going to have to delve more deeply. Anyone know a good biography?
Just read the final essay last night. As I drifted off to sleep I thought of how wonderful it is that a man who was born in 1899 was able to write about things that happened in his life and how I felt so connected to his world. Truly he was one of the best.
William Korn
E.B. White is universally regarded as one of the greatest prose "stylists" of the 20th century. Being neither a professional writer nor critic, I'm not sure what that means. But I do know his writing is a pleasure to read, not only for its "style" but for its content. Like his essayist colleagues at the New Yorker magazine during its golden years, he had the ability to make the subjects of his essays, no matter how mundane or personal, to have a lyrical quality that keeps the reader coming back ...more
I'm classifying this anthology of essays by E. B. White as biography because the essays offer just that-insight into the beloved author's mostly adult life, although he does include some essays about experiences as a teenager and a young adult. While some of the essays seem to ramble, there are some that really stand out in my mind: "Good-bye to Forty-Eighth Street," "Homecoming," "Death of a Pig," "The Geese," "What Do Our Hearts Treasure?", and the "The Years of Wonder." As a shy youth, White ...more
T.E. George
It's good to see this masterful essay available in eBook format as well as in print. Perhaps that will make White's mastery of words and ideas even more widely known than before. Consider how prophetic and penetrating these words from White in 1949 are:

"All dwellers in cities must live with the stubborn fact of annihilation; in New York the fact is somewhat more concentrated because of the concentration of the city itself, and because, of all targets, New York has a certain clear priority. In th
Margaret1358 Joyce
These word-painting gems of 20th C American life exude a felt sense of presence. Upon finishing the last page of the last essay, I felt I was about to say good-bye to a trusted friend.
These superb essays, conversational in tone, often dry, but sometimes hilariously funny, offer the reader sharp images and lively descriptions of heightened moments in the writer's long life. They give us a kind of 'annotated America'through the lens of the author's personal musings and frequently very funny and
Since this has been heralded as a classic, I'm surprised that some of the essays wander in their focus, leaving me wondering, what was he trying to say here?
“Once More to the Lake” is my absolute favorite in this collection. Last summer I heard the essay for the first time and immediately thought of my daughter and mother entwined by intergenerational connections, the time-travel of the mind of not knowing whose hands were holding the pole. My second favorite was “The Years of Wonder” as I enjoy
Not every essay is a favorite, but a couple of them I go back to again and again. "Homecoming," which opens with one of the funniest descriptions of home town life I've ever come across, recounts the author's drive up Route 1 to his farm for Thanksgiving, "Familiarity is the thing- the sense of belonging. It grants exemption from all evil, all shabbiness. A farmer pauses in the doorway of his barn and he is wearing the right boots....and the light that leaves the sky at four o'clock automaticall ...more
"The essayist is a self-liberated man, sustained by the childish belief that everything he thinks about, everything that happens to him, is of general interest...Only the person who is congenitally self-centered has the effrontery and the stamina to write essays."

So begins White's foreword to this collection of essays spanning forty years of his career with the effrontery to catalog a broad range of subjects including farm-life, city-life, environmentalism, writing and writers, and odd memories
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Elwyn Brooks White was a leading American essayist, author, humorist, poet and literary stylist and author of such beloved children's classics as Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan. He graduated from Cornell University in 1921 and, five or six years later, joined the staff of The New Yorker magazine. He authored over seventeen books of prose and poetry and was elected to t ...more
More about E.B. White...
Charlotte's Web Stuart Little The Trumpet of the Swan Here Is New York Three Beloved Classics by E. B. White: Charlotte's Web/the Trumpet of the Swan/Stuart Little

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“One of the most time-consuming things is to have an enemy.” 144 likes
“The subtlest change in New York is something people don't speak much about but that is in everyone's mind. The city, for the first time in its long history, is destructible. A single flight of planes no bigger than a wedge of geese can quickly end this island fantasy, burn the towers, crumble the bridges, turn the underground passages into lethal chambers, cremate the millions. The intimation of mortality is part of New York now: in the sound of jets overhead, in the black headlines of the latest edition. (Written in 1949, 22 years before the World Trade Center was completed.)” 29 likes
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