The Art of the Personal Essay Review

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the art of the personal essay

The Art of the Personal Essay by Phillip Lopate is a very informative guide for the essayist seeking to improve his/her writing.

The comprehensive compilation of essays includes selected works of the most brilliant authors. An example is “The Death of the Moth” by Virginia Woolf, who is known for her masterful way of conveying her thoughts through refined language. Such an essay encourages deep thinking in readers; it uses literary techniques like figures of speech and imagery to drive home the main point.

Various insights can be gleaned from the introduction alone of The Art of the Personal Essay by Phillip Lopate. It succinctly cites the main purpose of the book, which is to help the personal essayist find the right techniques that will capture the attention of readers and to retain it.

The many important qualities and skills that the essayist must possess are also cited. These include being a good storyteller, and writing in a simple yet engaging manner. The personal essayist is distinguished from other academic writers in that the former writes in a more personal or intimate sense. As Lopate cited, the personal essayist must be able to speak directly to the reader’s ear, and let thoughts, sentiments, memories, whimsies, or gripes flow. The importance of creating a relationship with the reader is emphasized.

The Art of the Personal Essay by Phillip Lopate contains a wide selection of essays written from different cultural backdrops. In all the selections, there is a solid subject, which may be something mundane like hateful things or tendencies of humans, to very relevant issues or observations.

All the essayists in the compilation do not just describe but explore or explain in great detail. Some of them reveal their own personal experiences while others incorporated research material. The book is therefore a very useful tool for students and professionals alike who want to hone their writing skills. Some of the essays in the book were written with oratorical flourish, but most of the selections used casual, everyday language.

The importance of being a reliable narrator, passion and knowledge for the subject matter, and the ability to seek out classic building materials for the personal essay are all cited as important.

It will be noted that the essay anthology featuring works carefully selected by Phillip Lopate, himself an authority on essays, mirrors a rich and vibrant literary form. In effect, The Art of the Personal Essay is a celebration of the genre.

Readers can glean many different insights about the human condition and socio-political and cultural issues. There are masterpieces from ancient Greece, Rome, the Far East, and Asia. The anthology is testament to the fact that first-rate personal essayists can mirror a country’s culture and/or tackle a variety of other topics with flair and depth. Overall, the book is a very inspiring and worthwhile reading matter that students, instructors, and other professions can benefit from.