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A Literary Education and Other Essays

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  82 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 636 pages
Published June 10th 2014 by Axios Press (first published June 1st 2014)
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Jul 23, 2014 Cici rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Being a publicly - and self-celebrated essayist, the author writes with a breezy and erudite style, more of a New Yorker confidence instead of a pedantic earnestness. A few of his essays are insightful and edifying, while the others are acerbic cultural observations.

His first essay is perhaps the most insightful on on education. By quoting Professor Becker “too much in formal education has to do with quick response, with coughing up information quickly, and not enough leeway is allowed for refl
Aug 04, 2014 Herzog rated it liked it
Shelves: literary
I've long been a fan of Mr. Epstein and have read all of his books of essays both familiar and literary. Not to put too fine a point on it, Mr. Epstein has become a troglodyte. It appears that about the time Richard Nixon resigned from office, his politics changed from leftward leaning to strongly right leaning. Some of the essays in this book come off sounding poorly because of that change in politics - exactly what he accuses the left of. When he avoids the political slant and concentrates on ...more
Jul 11, 2014 Rose rated it really liked it
Very interesting essays on a number of subjects (quite a few of them book reviews). They make for great reading even if you don't agree with some of his premises and conclusions. (I was a little put-off by his statement in the preface about all the praise he receives,but I am glad that didn't stop me from reading the book).
Fernando Fernández
Nov 18, 2016 Fernando Fernández rated it liked it
I might be biased on this one, but, for someone who makes a living reading literature, such a strong and simplistic defense of capitalism and business without any caveats should make any informed reader cringe. Had he been born in the right decade, he would have been an eager follower of Mr. McCarthy.
David James
Aug 03, 2015 David James rated it it was amazing
Epstein, Joseph. A Literary Education

Joseph Epstein in this fat volume has collected selections from his journalistic essays from 1959 to 2013. In his Introduction he confesses, not over-modestly, to having been compared to Montaigne, Lamb, Hazlitt and Beerbohm, and called ‘the best essayist writing in English.’ Most of the nay-sayers gave him comfort in the fact that ‘most have seemed to me unjust.’ No false modesty here and none needed in the body of the book, which is lively, varied and not w
One caveat: Do not sit down to read this wonderful collection of essays without a notebook and a reliable pen by your side. I found that in almost every essay I found the names of writers, journalists, artists, musicians, and more that I wanted to research, to find their books and articles and such so that I might read them, too.

Joseph Epstein seems to know everyone in the arena of books and literature, in Chicago certainly but also in other cities that were or are centers of culture and to whic
Apr 05, 2016 Annabelle rated it really liked it
2014 was a year of Somerset Maugham and Joseph Epstein. I cannot get enough of both. But I ended 2014 and started 2015 with Epstein. With this, his most personal book to date, I think. Again he mentions Lionel Trilling's joke about the English major (what regiment?). This collection of essays show just how outstanding a writer he is. Wry, very dry humor, conservative-liberal views (and proud of it), effortlessly self-deprecating. And judging by his notes on the subject, a man with very high ...more
Andrea Engle
Aug 25, 2014 Andrea Engle rated it liked it
Shelves: books-read-2014
Though more familiar with Jacob Epstein than Joseph Epstein, I enjoyed this eclectic collection of essays ... Despite his self-confessed bias as a Jewish Conservative, Epstein dealt with such topics as Education, Journalism, Culture and Language in an interesting fashion ... His 30-year stint of teaching at Northwestern, his membership on the Council of the National Endowment for the Arts, and his early involvement with the "intellectual" magazine served as credentials for his pronouncements ...
Aug 28, 2014 Elizabeth rated it liked it
Shelves: read-part
I didn't read all of every essay - some were too long or on subjects not of interest to me. I like the ones in Part Two: Memoir and Part Three: The Culture best.
Kenneth Bareksten
Jun 17, 2016 Kenneth Bareksten rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essay
Possibly one of the sharpest pens in the USA. Witty, bold and with great insights in the literary arts as well as the culture that surrounds it.
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May 12, 2016
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May 10, 2015
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Nov 26, 2014
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Feb 11, 2015
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Sep 14, 2015
Barbara Heisey
Nov 19, 2015 Barbara Heisey rated it it was amazing
Terrific collection essays by a literary essayist of the first rank.
Bill rated it it was amazing
Jul 22, 2015
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Jun 30, 2014
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“One of the reasons that most literary artists are contemptuous of Sigmund Freud—whose thought Vladimir Nabokov once characterized as no more than private parts covered up by Greek myths—is that his extreme determinism is felt to be immensely untrue to the rich complexity of life, with its twists and turns and manifold surprises.” 0 likes
“Old people like to give good advice as a consolation for the fact that they can no longer set bad examples.” 0 likes
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