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The Golden Age of the American Essay


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A one-of-a-kind anthology of American essays on a wide range of subjects by a dazzling array of mid-century writers at the top of their form. AN ANCHOR ORIGINAL.

Table of Contents

Introduction by Phillip Lopate

James Agee, The Nation: Democratic Vistas (1945)
Reinhold Niebuhr, Humor and Faith (1946)
George F. Kennan, The Sources of Soviet Conduct (1947)
Edmund Wilson, Paul Rosenfeld: Three Phases (1947)
Walter Lippmann, The Dilemma of Liberal Democracy (1947)
Robert Warshow, The Gangster as Tragic Hero (1948)
Harold Rosenberg, The Herd of Independent Minds (1948)
Robert K. Merton, The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy (1948)
Leslie Fieldler, Come Back to the Raft Ag'in, Huck Honey! (1948)
James Baldwin, Stranger in the Village (1953)
Mary McCarthy, Artists in Uniform (1953)
Irving Howe, This Age of Conformity (1954)
E. B. White, Sootfall and Fallout (1956)
Vladimir Nabokov, On a Book Entitled Lolita (1956)
Saul Bellow, The University as Villain (1957)
Lionel Trilling, The Last Lover (1958)
A. J. Liebling, A Good Appetite (1959)
Seymour Krim, Making It! (1959)
Elizabeth Hardwick, Boston (1959)
Flannery O'Connor, Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction (1960)
John Updike, Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu (1960)
Randall Jarrell, A Sad Heart at the Supermarket (1960)
Clement Greenberg, Modernist Painting (1961)
Rachel Carson, The Obligation to Endure (1962)
Norman Mailer: An Evening With Jackie Kennedy (1962)
Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail (1963)
Philip Roth, Writing About Jews (1963)
Susan Sontag, Notes on "Camp" (1964)
Richard Hofstadter, The Paranoid Style in American Politics (1964)
Paul Goodman, The Universal Trap (1964)
Tom Wolfe, The Girl of the Year (1964)
Edwin Denby, Dancers, Buildings and People in the Streets (1965)
N. Scott Momaday, The Way to Rainy Mountain (1969)
Gore Vidal, The 29th Republican Convention (1969)
Albert Murray, The Blues Idiom and the Mainstream (1970)
Loren Eiseley, One Night's Dying (1970)
Edward Hoagland, Home Is Two Places (1970)
Joan Didion, On the Morning After the Sixties (1970)

About the Author

PHILLIP LOPATE is the author of To Show and to Tell- The Craft of Literary Nonfiction and of four essay collections, Bachelorhood, Against Joie de Vivre, Portrait of My Body, and Portrait Inside My Head. He is the editor of the anthologies The Art of the Personal Essay, Writing New York, and American Movie Critics. He was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a New York Public Library Center for Scholars and Writers Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts grants, and two New York Foundation for the Arts grants. He is professor of writing at Columbia University's nonfiction MFA program, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


"What's marvelous is the way Lopate's anthologies . . . manage to be not only comprehensive monuments of deep expertise, but such continuously fresh and thrilling reading companions." --Jonathan Lethem, author of The Feral Detective

"Phillip Lopate is one of the most brilliant and original essayists now working." --Louise Gluck, winner of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature

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