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The Best American Essays of the Century
Synopses & Reviews
The enormously popular Best American series, which publishes annual collections of short stories, mystery stories, science writing, music reviews, and many more, has become a staple for readers who value the excellent quality these anthologies offer. For the year 2000, though, the Best American editors also published a number of "Best of the Century" anthologies. Together, these volumes constitute an engaging and thorough tour of the American Century.
The Best American Essays of the Century is edited by novelist, essayist, critic, poet, playwright and teacher Joyce Carol Oates. The coeditor is Robert Atwan, who founded the Best American Essay series in 1986. Within this anthology are fifty-five essays on a wide variety of topics, ranging from the personal to the political. Included are pieces written by some of the greatest practitioners of the form in our history, such masters as E. B. White, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Vladimir Nabokov, and Ernest Hemingway to name just a few. Some of the most powerful of these essays explore the central issue in twentieth-century American life: race. The impact of the essays by Martin Luther King Jr., Richard Wright, and Zora Neale Hurston continue to reverberate today. As Atwan says in his introduction, these essays were chosen for their ability to "speak to the present, not merely represent the past." Georgie, Powells.com
This singular collection is nothing less than a political, spiritual, and intensely personal record of America's tumultuous modern age by our foremost critics, commentators, activists, and artists. In her introduction to this volume, Joyce Carol Oates describes her project as a search for the expression of personal experience within the historical, the individual talent within the tradition. Along with Robert Atwan, who has overseen the acclaimed BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS series since its inception in 1986, Oates has chosen a list of works that are both intimate and important, essays that take on subjects of profound and universal significance while retaining the power and spirit of a personal address.< BR> This collection honors some of the twentieth century's best-known and best-loved writers on a breathtaking variety of topics. In a journalistic mode, Ernest Hemingway covers the bullfights in Pamplona, H. L. Mencken reacts to the Scopes trial, and Michael Herr dodges bullets in a helicopter over Vietnam. Nowhere is the intersection of our personal and political histories more meaningful than when the subject is America& #39; s enduring legacy of racial strife, as shown by Richard Wright& #39; s The Ethics of Living Jim Crow, James Baldwin& #39; s Notes of a Native Son, Zora Neale Hurston& #39; s How It Feels to Be Colored Me, and others. The wonders and horrors of science, nature, and the cosmos are explored with eloquence, bravery, and beauty when Lewis Thomas writes about The Lives of a Cell, Rachel Carson mulls The Marginal World, and Stephen Jay Gould preaches evolution and baseball in The Creation Myths of Cooperstown.< BR> Taken together, these essaysfit, in the words of Joyce Carol Oates, into a kind of mobile mosaic suggest ing] where we've come from, and who we are, and where we are going.< BR> < BR> Mark Twain & bull; W.E.B. Du Bois & bull; Henry Adams & bull; John Muir & bull; William James & bull; Randolph Bourne & bull; John Jay Chapman & bull; Jane Addams & bull; T. S. Eliot & bull; Ernest Hemingway < BR> & bull; H. L. Mencken & bull; Zora Neale Hurston & bull; Edmund Wilson & bull; Gertrude Stein & bull; F. Scott Fitzgerald & bull; James Thurber & bull; Richard Wright & bull; James Agee & bull; Robert Frost & bull; E. B. White & bull; S. J. Perelman & bull; Langston Hughes & bull; Katherine Anne Porter & bull; Mary McCarthy & bull; Rachel Carson & bull; James Baldwin & bull; Loren Eiseley & bull; Eudora Welty & bull; Donald Hall & bull; Martin Luther King, Jr. & bull; Tom Wolfe & bull; Susan Sontag & bull; Vladimir Nabokov & bull; N. Scott Momaday & bull; Elizabeth Hardwick & bull; Michael Herr & bull; Maya Angelou & bull; Lewis Thomas & bull; John McPhee & bull; William H. Gass & bull; Maxine Hong Kingston & bull; Alice Walker & bull; Adrienne Rich & bull; Joan Didion & bull; Richard Rodriguez & bull; Gretel Ehrlich & bull; Annie Dillard & bull; Cynthia Ozick & bull; William Manchester & bull; Edward Hoagland & bull; Stephen Jay Gould & bull; Gerald Early & bull; John Updike & bull; Joyce Carol Oates & bull; Saul Bellow
For this singular collection, Joyce Carol Oates selected fifty-five unforgettable essays by the finest American writers of the twentieth century. Here is a sampling — twelve unabridged essays — featuring a wide variety of contemporary writers reading classics of the genre, along with authors reading their own work. Nothing less than a political, spiritual, and intensely personal record of America's tumultuous modern age, THE BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS OF THE CENTURY is "an outstanding, galvanic collection" (Entertainment Weekly).
This singular collection is nothing less than a political, spiritual, and intensely personal record of America's tumultuous modern age by our foremost critics, commentators, activists, and artists. In her introduction to this volume, Joyce Carol Oates describes her project as "a search for the expression of personal experience within the historical, the individual talent within the tradition." Along with Robert Atwan, who has overseen the acclaimed BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS series since its inception in 1986, Oates has chosen a list of works that are both intimate and important, essays that take on subjects of profound and universal significance while retaining the power and spirit of a personal address.
This collection honors some of the twentieth century's best-known and best-loved writers on a breathtaking variety of topics. In a journalistic mode, Ernest Hemingway covers the bullfights in Pamplona, H. L. Mencken reacts to the Scopes trial, and Michael Herr dodges bullets in a helicopter over Vietnam. Nowhere is the intersection of our personal and political histories more meaningful than when the subject is Americas enduring legacy of racial strife, as shown by Richard Wrights "The Ethics of Living Jim Crow," James Baldwins "Notes of a Native Son," Zora Neale Hurstons "How It Feels to Be Colored Me," and others. The wonders and horrors of science, nature, and the cosmos are explored with eloquence, bravery, and beauty when Lewis Thomas writes about "The Lives of a Cell," Rachel Carson mulls "The Marginal World," and Stephen Jay Gould preaches evolution and baseball in "The Creation Myths of Cooperstown." Taken together, these essays fit, in the words of Joyce Carol Oates, "into a kind of mobile mosaic suggest[ing] where we've come from, and who we are, and where we are going."
Mark Twain W.E.B. Du Bois Henry Adams John Muir William James Randolph Bourne John Jay Chapman Jane Addams T. S. Eliot Ernest Hemingway H. L. Mencken Zora Neale Hurston Edmund Wilson Gertrude Stein F. Scott Fitzgerald James Thurber Richard Wright James Agee Robert Frost E. B. White S. J. Perelman Langston Hughes Katherine Anne Porter Mary McCarthy Rachel Carson James Baldwin Loren Eiseley Eudora Welty Donald Hall Martin Luther King, Jr. Tom Wolfe Susan Sontag Vladimir Nabokov N. Scott Momaday Elizabeth Hardwick Michael Herr Maya Angelou Lewis Thomas John McPhee William H. Gass Maxine Hong Kingston Alice Walker Adrienne Rich Joan Didion Richard Rodriguez Gretel Ehrlich Annie Dillard Cynthia Ozick William Manchester Edward Hoagland Stephen Jay Gould Gerald Early John Updike Joyce Carol Oates Saul Bellow
About the Author
JOYCE CAROL OATES — novelist, essayist, critic, poet, playwright, teacher, and short story writer — is one of the preeminent literary figures and social critics of the twentieth century. Her honors include an NEA grant, a Guggenheim fellowship, the PEN/Malamud Lifetime Achievement Award, and the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Lifetime Achievement in American Literature. She is also a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.Since the inception of The Best American Essays in 1986 as a trade book title, Robert Atwan has been series editor. He has published reviews and essays in a range of periodicals and edited a number of other literature anthologies. Atwan most recently edited two collections of poetry with a Biblical theme, Chapters into Verse by Oxford University Press and Divine Inspiration by Oxford University Press.
Table of Contents
Contents Foreword by Robert Atwan : x Introduction by Joyce Carol Oates : xvii 1901 : Mark Twain Corn-pone Opinions : 1 1903 : W.E.B. Du Bois Of the Coming of John : 6 1906 : Henry Adams A Law of Acceleration : 20 1909 : John Muir Stickeen : 28 1910 : William James The Moral Equivalent of War : 45 1911 : Randolph Bourne The Handicapped : 57 1912 : John Jay Chapman Coatesville : 71 1916 : Jane Addams The Devil Baby at Hull-House : 75 1919 : T. S. Eliot Tradition and the Individual Talent : 90 1923 : Ernest Hemingway Pamplona in July : 98 1925 : H. L. mencken The Hills of Zion : 107 1928 : Zora Neale Hurston How It Feels to Be Colored Me : 114 1933 : Edmund Wilson The Old Stone House : 118 1935 : Gertrude Stein What Are Master-pieces and Why Are There So Few of Them : 131 1936 : F. Scott Fitzgerald The Crack-Up : 139 1937 : James Thurber Sex Ex Machina : 153 1937 : Richard Wright The Ethics of Living Jim Crow: An Autobiographical Sketch : 159 1938 : James Agee Knoxville: Summer of 1915 : 171 1939 : Robert Frost The Figure a Poem Makes : 176 1941 : E. B. White Once More to the Lake : 179 1944 : S. J. Perelman Insert Flap A” and Throw Away : 186 1949 : Langston Hughes Bop : 190 1950 : Katherine Anne Porter The Future Is Now : 193 1953 : Mary Mccarthy Artists in Uniform : 199 1955 : Rachel Carson The Marginal World : 214 1955 : James Baldwin Notes of a Native Son : 220 1956 : Loren Eiseley The Brown Wasps : 239 1957 : Eudora Welty A Sweet Devouring : 246 1961 : Donald Hall A Hundred Thousand Straightened Nails : 252 1963 : Martin Luther King, Jr.
Letter from Birmingham Jail : 263 1964 : Tom Wolfe Putting Daddy On : 280 1964 : Susan Sontag Notes on Camp” : 288 1966 : Vladimir Nabokov Perfect Past : 303 1967 : N. Scott Momaday The Way to Rainy Mountain : 313 1968 : Elizabeth Hardwick The Apotheosis of Martin Luther King : 319 1969 : Michael Herr Illumination Rounds : 327 1970 : Maya Angelou I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings : 342 1971 : Lewis Thomas The Lives of a Cell : 358 1972 : John Mcphee The Search for Marvin Gardens : 361 1972 : William H. Gass The Doomed in Their Sinking : 373 1975 : Maxine Hong Kingston No Name Woman : 383 1975 : Alice Walker Looking for Zora : 395 1977 : Adrienne Rich Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying : 412 1979 : Joan Didion The White Album : 421 1980 : Richard Rodriguez Aria: A Memoir of a Bilingual Childhood : 447 1981 : Gretel Ehrlich The Solace of Open Spaces : 467 1982 : Annie Dillard Total Eclipse : 477 1982 : Cynthia Ozick A Drugstore in Winter : 490 1987 : William Manchester Okinawa: The Bloodiest Battle of All : 497 1988 : Edward Hoagland Heaven and Nature : 507 1989 : Stephen Jay Gould The Creation Myths of Cooperstown : 520 1990 : Gerald Early Life with Daughters: Watching the Miss America Pageant : 532 1993 : John Updike The Disposable Rocket : 549 1995 : Joyce Carol Oates They All Just Went Away : 553 1997 : Saul Bellow Graven Images : 564 Biographical Notes : 569 Appendix: Notable Twentieth-Century American Literary Nonfiction : 591
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