Personal Essay

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Personal Essay

  • November 15, 2018
  • By Admin: mrbauld
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The Personal Essay

Here find samples of and about the personal essay especially for use in 441/541 English. We live in a world awash with essays. They are to be seen in newspapers, magazines, journals, anthologies, and heard on radio and television. The essays range from the polemical to the sublime, from the refined to the vulgar, and represent every shade of opinion. Some letters-to-the -editor make better essays than many professional efforts. The links section of this website provides some venues for quality essays. Some names that quickly come to mind as accomplished essayists include: Harry Bruce, Mark Steyn & Robert Fulford (National Post), Annie Dillard, Barry Lopez, Camille Paglia (Salon), Cynthia Ozick, George Orwell, Lewis Lapham (editor of Harper’s), and Rex Murphy and Margaret Wente (Globe & Mail). There are many voices worth listening to (and no doubt, many more not)- find your own and try to read half a dozen every week, in one form or another. The best site on the web for my money is Arts&Letters; Daily which offers a digest of the best essays on the rest of the web. Reading its three new entries each day is an efficient way to keep in touch with the world of ideas. Read this for a year and you will have catapulted into the world of ideas. Having opinions is easy, but actually knowing something, and not just latching onto the first political cliche you hear, is rare.

Reading great essays is probably the best way to learn how to write them, but there are innumerable online writing sites willing to help and give advice. The best of these (and linking to most of the others) can be found at a fine resource called The Five Paragraph Essay. Take the time to explore and you’ll be ready to give a course on the subject.


  • Simon Blackburn, Cambridge philosopher, here points out the dangers of relativism in moral thinking
  • An interview with Simon Blackburn where he reveals a distrust for “global warming” alarmists
  • Read Chapter One of Annie Dillard’s book length essay For the Time Being which Paul William Roberts called one of the most important books of the last half century
  • “Self-Reliance”: The 19th century master, Ralph Waldo Emerson, reminds us of a forgotten virtueThe following essays are by “Aristides”, or Joseph Epstein, brilliant former editor of The American Scholar and first out of the blocks to defend Philip Larkin against the charges of his lessers:
  • Decline
  • Gossip
  • Heroes and Role Models
  • Pets
  • Taste
  • Time
  • Joseph Epstein on “The Personal Essay: A Form of Discovery”
  • Joseph Epstein (Aristides) is interviewed.
  • Ian Hunter’s “definition essay” on tolerance
  • Sehdev Kumar considers the limits of science and the reach of poetry
  • Barry Lopez Interview which includes remarks on the essay “Who Are These Animals We Kill”
  • A Conversation with Barry Lopez
  • Barry Lopez and Rick Bass on Hunting
  • Barry Lopez discusses the genre of Nature Writing
  • An interview with Barry Lopez which considers “what is it makes a worthy life?”