Personal Essay Anthologies

Personal Essay Anthologies-10
In three thick volumes, over 13 years, he has published a series of anthologies—of the contemporary American essay, of the world essay, and now of the historical American essay—that misrepresents what the essay is and does, that falsifies its history, and that contains, among its numerous selections, very little one would reasonably classify within the genre.And all of this to wide attention and substantial acclaim (D’Agata is the director of the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa, the most prestigious name in creative writing)—because effrontery, as everybody knows, will get you very far in American culture, and persistence in perverse opinion, further still.It’s also a choice we make: to pay attention, to extend ourselves.” The movement that culminates in that passage—from instance to precept, from observation to idea—is the hallmark of the essay.conceptually and psychologically, appears to begin with the term nonfiction.

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Joyce Carol Oates’s anthology The Best American Essays of the Century was published in 2000.

Also in 2000, the National Magazine Awards established a category exclusively for essays.

“Nonfiction,” he suggests, is like saying “not art,” and if D’Agata, who has himself published several volumes of what he refers to as essays, desires a single thing above all, it is to be known as a maker of art. Nonfiction may not be a very useful term, and it certainly is an ill-defined (and, with its double negation, a very odd) one, but no one believes that the thing it names cannot be art. D’Agata tells us that the term has been in use since about 1950.

In fact, it was coined in 1867 by the staff of the Boston Public Library and entered widespread circulation after the turn of the 20th century.

Every piece of this is false in one way or another.

Persuasive Essay Introduction Examples - Personal Essay Anthologies

There are genres whose principal business is fact—journalism, history, popular science—but the essay has never been one of them.What it’s like is abysmal: partial to trivial formal experimentation, hackneyed artistic rebellion, opaque expressions of private meaning, and modish political posturing.We get gimmick pieces like Donald Barthelme’s “Sentence” and Kenneth Goldsmith’s “All the Numbers From Numbers,” flaccid “theme” writing like Fabio Morabito’s “Oil” and Alexander Theroux’s “Black,” lightweight narrative vignettes like Susan Steinberg’s “Signified” and Brian Lennon’s “Sleep,” and overwrought poeticizations like Dino Campana’s “The Night” and Saint-John Perse’s “Anabasis.” D’Agata is a professor of creative writing, and a lot of this material is indeed “creative writing” in the worst, collegiate sense: not fiction or poetry or memoir or essay, but verbiage that manages to be both all of them and none—formless, monotonous, self-indulgent, and dull.He gives us Jean Toomer’s “Blood-Burning Moon” and Renata Adler’s “Brownstone” (short stories), T. What we really seem to get in D’Agata’s trilogy, in other words, is a compendium of writing that the man himself just happens to like, or that he wants to appropriate as a lineage for his own work.To be sure, there does appear to be a kind of prose that he’s particularly partial to and that is mainly what he seems to have in mind when he talks about the lyric essay.Phillip Lopate’s anthology The Art of the Personal Essay was published in 1994.Joseph Epstein’s anthology The Norton Book of Personal Essays was published in 1997.As for the essay—a form whose exponents in English had included, from the 1860s to the 1960s, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, and James Baldwin—its prestige was never less than high, and the emergence of creative nonfiction as a rallying point (and of the memoir as a publishing phenomenon) was soon followed by that of the personal essay, in particular, as an increasingly prominent and celebrated genre.The annual Best American Essays debuted in 1986, the first addition to the Best American franchise since the series was launched (with The Best American Short Stories) in 1915.The concept’s birth and growth, in other words, did coincide with the rise of the novel to literary preeminence, and nonfiction did long carry an odor of disesteem.But that began to change at least as long ago as the 1960s, with the New Journalism and the “nonfiction novel.” By decade’s end, the phrase creative nonfiction had entered the lexicon—a term that’s since become ubiquitous and that explicitly negates D’Agata’s claim about the anti-artistic implication of its second word.


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