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Essays of E. B. White

4.32  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,287 Ratings  ·  219 Reviews
Widely read for his eloquence and wit, widely taught for his clarity, White remains one of the greatest essayists of this century. "Some of the finest examples of contemporary, genuinely American prose."--The Washington Post
Library Binding, 277 pages
Published by Borgo Press (first published 1977)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Joe
Jun 16, 2010 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
David
Feb 08, 2012 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
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
...more
Rosemary
Nov 23, 2014 Rosemary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Andrew
Sep 04, 2010 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
...more
Antigone
Aug 14, 2014 Antigone rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays-shorts
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
Kris
Jan 20, 2011 Kris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
David
Sep 14, 2008 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays, nonfiction
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
...more
Wendy Pitts
Full disclosure I did not read ALL the essays but, the ones I read I did enjoy. This is not really my type of book. Rather dense reading where you have to slow down and pay attention to detail because White is very witty. Enjoyable slow read.
Alessandra
Apr 12, 2016 Alessandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In one essay about watching a circus act rehearse, White says, "As a writing man, or secretary, I have always felt charged with the safekeeping of all unexpected items of worldly or unworldly enchantment, as though I might be held personally responsible if even a small one were to be lost." E.B White is a keen observer, and what his writing preserves is probably worth more than the sum of its contents. His accounts are funny and his humor incisive (ex. "The Eye of Edna" and "Afternoon of an Amer ...more
Barbara
Apr 26, 2012 Barbara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-reading
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
...more
Darla
Jan 16, 2016 Darla rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
I had a difficult time rating this book. There were a handful of essays I really liked--mostly the autobiographical ones. I always think of EBW as a kind grandfatherly figure, but he lived quite the eclectic, adventurous, activist life. He is the "White" in Strunk and White's"Elements of Style." I often thought of his political essays -- the more things change the more they stay the same. However there were many essays that just didn't seem relevant or interesting to me. When I did a mathematica ...more
Kathy
Apr 01, 2016 Kathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am not an essay fan or a short fan but you cannot get better than E. B. White's essays. I can't believe I've gone 65 years without anyone suggesting I read them. They're fabulous and in both political and environmental they're unfortunately very much on target. Sometimes it was hard to believe I was reading a piece written 50 plus years ago and not written recently.

I highly recommend them to anyone.
Dave
May 15, 2015 Dave rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
E. B. White was a great essayist. If you want to spend a month reading an essay every morning I highly recommend this book. Whether it was observations of life on the farm and by the sea in Maine, or the ever changing world of New York in the 1930's - 60's, White does a masterful job of describing what he sees and experiences. Read this.
Ad Hudler
Being a huge E.B. White fan, I've got to say I was somewhat disappointed by this collection, which I didn't finish. I was curious what the author of Charlotte's Web would have to say to adults....and it wasn't much, in my opinion. I feel that Charlotte's Web is one of the best books written in the English language ... so much so that I put it on my list of favorite books at AdHudler.com ... right up there with some capital-L Literary behemoths. Charlotte's Web has not one wasted word. No fat. Be ...more
Lorraine
Mar 01, 2016 Lorraine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this a long time ago, and I believe it is time to revisit it. I remember reading one essay a night right before bed. It was like treating myself to a piece of great dark chocolate before bed.
Ismael Galvan
Jun 23, 2016 Ismael Galvan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Karen Floyd
Mar 12, 2015 Karen Floyd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
"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
Larissa
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
...more
Alison
Mar 12, 2013 Alison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Brynn
Aug 31, 2012 Brynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
...more
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
...more
William Korn
Mar 18, 2015 William Korn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
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
Mr. Brammer
Feb 21, 2016 Mr. Brammer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
New England writers have a mode - fascinated with nature, and the everyday workmanlike process of filtering the natural experience through the small routines of daily life. Frost did it with "Mending Wall", Updike with his petty domestic dramas, Thoreau with his canoe and tourist cabin. I'll throw Lowell and Dickinson's confessional poetry in with the lot, if only to support my claim that these are all fish out of water stories - what it means to be inside when you really want to be outside, to ...more
Jim Manis
Apr 23, 2016 Jim Manis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
I purchased the book in 1977, when it first came out. At the time I loaned it to my mother to read, and since then I've carried it around with me over the eastern half of the U.S., always intending to read it. Of course, I've read "Once More to the Lake," one of the essays, many times, beginning with my freshman year in college and then later when I taught freshman writing courses myself.

The book is a deep wine red hardback, cloth covered with sewn and cut pages, and there is fine gold letterin
...more
Mark
May 06, 2008 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mike
Feb 13, 2011 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Liz
May 15, 2008 Liz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 04, 2014 Ed Cottingham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
T P Kennedy
Sep 29, 2015 T P Kennedy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a superb collection of writing. Some of the selections tend towards the nostalgic and can verge towards the corny but it's done superbly well. At its best his writing brings to mind the essays of Lamb or Birrell. The brief essay, "Once more to the lake" justified the price of purchase alone. In this account of returning to the scene of his boyhood holidays, he deftly weaves together sentiment with intimations of mortality. This is a master at work.
Lauren
Feb 28, 2014 Lauren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
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