Sets out in a new and authoritative way the history of the essay; explains how the essay has come to mean what it does, surveys the widely various incarnations of the form, offers new accounts of major essayists in English, and traces a wide range of significant themes.
- The most substantial book to date on the history of the essay in English
- Includes seventeen chapters written by scholars and essayists whose expertise is internationally recognized
- Full of original research, fresh thought, and new connections including: the origins of the essay in miscellaneous writing; its relationship with experience; association and associationism; the relationship of the essay to the novel
- Explains how the essay has come to mean what it does, surveys the widely various incarnations of the form, offers new accounts of major essayists in English, and traces a wide range of significant themes
- Students and practitioners of the contemporary essay can trace their interests and writing back into the long history of the form
About the Author(s)
Edited by Thomas Karshan, Senior Lecturer in Literature, University of East Anglia, and Kathryn Murphy, Fellow and Tutor in English Literature, Oriel College, University of Oxford
Thomas Karshan has been a Kennedy Scholar at Harvard, a Junior Research Fellow at Oxford, and Leverhulme Research Fellow at Queen Mary, University of London. He served from 2019 to 2020 as President of the International Vladimir Nabokov Society and is the author of Vladimir Nabokov and the Art of Play (OUP, 2011), the editor of Nabokov's Collected Poems (Penguin / Knopf 2012), and the co-translator, with
Anastasia Tolstoy, of Nabokov's verse-play The Tragedy of Mister Morn (Penguin / Knopf 2012). He is now a Senior Lecturer in Literature and University Teaching Fellow at the University of East Anglia, where he teaches modules on modernism, nonsense, play, parody, and consciousness. He has a keen interest in creative-critical writing and teaching, and as such serves on the board of the Beyond Criticism book series and is the editor of the Beyond Criticism website.
Kathryn Murphy is Fellow in English Literature at Oriel College, and Associate Professor in the Faculty of English, University of Oxford. Her academic work focuses on Renaissance poetry and philosophy, and on the literary essay. She is also a critic and essayist, writing regularly about still life painting for Apollo Magazine, and reviewing Czech literature for the TLS. She is currently writing two books: The Tottering Universal: Metaphysical Prose in the Seventeenth Century; and Robert Burton: A Vital Melancholy, a study of distraction, attention, and The Anatomy of Melancholy.
"Original research, innovative analysis, and clear writing make this ode to the essay an exemplary piece of scholarship. Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers." - C. B. Kerr, CHOICE
"... there is also much to engage [essayists'] interest. Attempting to summarize the book's seventeen chapters is beyond the reach of a brief review... It's... welcome to see editors of anthologies being credited for doing "important work in framing their topics"." - Chris Arthur, St. Andrews, Scotland, World Literature Today