They say that there are the writers a separate universe in which they can produce, create their work. An ordinary person is not given the opportunity to know the deep writer’s life, but even every day we see a new crowd of people who stand in line for a new book. Everyone expects a miracle, take a new book with the hope that something wonderful, inexplicably beautiful, willing to drown in a completely different world, a world of fantasies and dreams, which appears to the reader in the next bought book in the various forms: essays, novels, stories, poem.
Today we are going to talk about the famous essay writers. ESSAY (fran. Essai) it is the literary form of small prose text, which express emphasize the author’s individuality. In relief, to the story, the writer’s essay’s facility is to communicate or interpret, but not ever a picture or a histrionic retelling of any life position. The work reaches its purpose through the outright copyright approvals, which do not take the perpetration of no one fictional personage or the plot of a binder. Nevertheless, there is not any hardly absolute difference between different types of essays and short stories. The main essay’s feature is its brevity, it usually takes from ten up to twenty pages.
There are a great amount of interesting, fascinating works, essays, literary works, which were written by the great world famous authors and writers. More than three centuries ago, the first essay was published at first. Now, we can find a lot of essays in libraries or have an easy possibility to order by the Internet miscellanea of works written by well-known authors from all the world from different centuries. Ever since ancient times, essays were published in magazines, books, were grouped by theme, genre, years, and the authors. Details included a variety of genres, among which are comedy, non-fiction, romance, instructive, historical facts, life stories, and current events. There are many authors and essays (detailed list you can read below), and it was difficult to identify the most important and well-known essayists of all time.
The list, about which I have mentioned earlier, includes writers from different backgrounds and periods of history. Some of they are still currently continuing to write. Because this fact, it is nothing surprising in the fact that essay remains a popular literary format. And the authors, who can quickly, briefly, concisely and interesting tell the story will always be on top. Edusson, the Essay Writing Service company, selected essayists, but not essays. Because, the best essays are only personal, authorial and deep engaged with author’s issues, internal feelings and ideas.
James Baldwin (1924-1987)
Baldwin grew up in a family of his stepfather, a priest, where he was the eldest of nine children. His own father, Baldwin have never known and was very suffered from that, which was reflected in some of his works (“Tell me when the train left”, “Go Tell it on the Mountain”, “Giovanni’s Room” and others. After Bronx high school graduating, Baldwin moved to Greenwich Village, where he began his literary career.
Greenwich Village has always been considered one of the most deprived New York areas, caused a wave of optimism in Baldwin’s source, who started to write about his views and understandings of what is happening around him. His first journalistic articles, essays were imbued with the spirit of racism denial which was prevailing in America at that times. That negative attitude makes young writer move Paris.
Baldwin felt like he caught a breath of fresh air in France, have been saving there from the racist and homophobic America of 40-th. XX century. His main works were written on the banks of the Seine, and there Baldwin have spent the most of his life, producing his creations among which are next well-known essays:
- James Baldwin and his popular essays published in 1956 “Notes of a Native Son” essays;
- James Baldwin and his book of interesting essays named “The Devil Finds Work” which was presented to the mass in 1976;
- James Baldwin and his “The Evidence of Things Not Seen” (essays; 1985);
- James Baldwin and his list of essays created in the romantic atmosphere of 85th with the strange name “The Price of the Ticket”;
Norman Mailer (1923-2007)
Norman Mailer was born in New Jersey in the Jewish immigrants family. He was the first child in the family, and after him, there was also two children - a brother and sister. Norman grew up in New York, and in 1939 decided to become a student of Harvard university, where he have fallen in love with literary activity. His first story was published at the age of 18, in 1941. The University of Harvard received young author the university magazine award. Among the entire set of his works we would like to highlight the most famous essays:
- Norman Mailer and his New York book of essays called in the world as “The Presidential Papers”;
- Norman Mailer and his second New York creation which is known by the loud name “Cannibals and Christians”;
- Norman Mailer and his “Pieces and Pontifications” in which the author opens the deep world of Little Boston’s Life.
Susan Sontag (1933-2004)
Susan Sontag was born in New York, 16 January 1933 year. Since her childhood, the friends of hers were always only booked. In 1952 Sontag’s family have moved to Boston where Sontag passed entry exams to Harvard University. There young writer studied English literature and received a Master of Philosophy in 1954. While have been studying at Oxford in 1955-1957, she has faced with the sexism challenge, and because of this soon moved to Paris. From that time she was actively engaged in the French cinema, philosophy and wrote a lot. Among her essay collection we can emphasize the nest ones: “Against Interpretation”, “Where the Stress Falls”, “Regarding the Pain of Others Styles of Radical Will”.
Joan Didion (1934-present)
Joan Didion was born and grew up in Sacramento, California. She was just a five-year-old little girl when she have begun to write her first string. She read everything she could get into her hands while the parents were not home. In 1956, she graduated from the University of Berkeley and got their Bachelor Degree in Arts and English language. Within her senior years, Joan won the first place in an essay writing inworld-known Vogue magazine. She created own first work which was named “Run” and issued in 1963 has been working there in Vogue. Among her essays work we want to mention the next ones:
- Joan Didion and her “Joan Didion” essays works;
- Joan Didion and her “Salvador”;
- Joan Didion and her essays about Earth planet called “After Henry” (twelve geographical essays);
Annie Dillard (1945-present)
Annie Dillard was born in 1945 and is already alive to present us a lot of her magnificent works. Anni is an American author. She was always well-known for her clear story prose in both nonfiction/fiction, poetry, essays, literary criticism and etc. Among her essays Edusson want to emphasize the next ones:
- “Education stone”, the book of short nonfiction essays;
- “Life on the rocks”, the book of 14 essays: Total Eclipse, In the Jungle, The Deer at Providencia, A Field of Silence, On a Hill Far Away, God in the Doorway, Mirage's, Aces and Eights);
Robert Atwan (1940- present)
Robert Atwan was born in 1940, November 2, in New Jersey. He graduated from 2 universities: Seton Hall and Rutgers. He is known as one of the best American essay writers. Among the entire set of his works we highlighted the most famous ones:
- “Great Moments in Literary Baseball”, on the basis of the first game of the season;
- “Poems and Essays”, essays about Autumn and Winter (Snowy essays);
Edward Hoagland (1932- present)
Edward Hoagland is an American writer, who was born in 1932, in New York. Since his childhood, he was fond of writing, literature and from that time, he decided to become a novelist, essayist. He has a huge number of essays, the whole list of which you can find here, and we will mention in our article just a little part of it:
- “The Big Cats”, written in 1961;
- “Why this Extra Violence” in April;
- “The Soul of the Tiger” written when he has fallen in love for the first time;
- “Big Frog, Very Small Pond”, unknown data;
- “A World Worth Saving and Christmas Observed”, written in 1989;
- “Two Kinds of People” which was published just in Europe;
- “Last Call”, 2010, a very interesting one;
- “On Friendship”, which he wrote in 2013, when he was already a deep old man.
David Foster Wallace (1962-2008)
David Foster Wallace was born in 1968 in the USA.He has graduated the little-known college, where he studied philosophy, there got a degree in English language and literature. For many years, he experienced severe bouts of depression.
in June 2007, according to the doctor recommendations David stopped taking medication. Depression particularly increased In the last months of his life. On September 12, 2008, he committed suicide.There some of this essays:
- David Foster and his essay “Television and U.S. Fiction”, (an interesting and comic essays book);
- David Foster and his essays book named “Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley”;
- David Foster and his “A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again” and “Consider the Lobster”, which were both published in 2005;
- David Foster and his “Both Flesh and Not” unknown date of publication.
So we see, that the concept “essay” goes beyond the simple students essays writing in college. The best and well-known writers from all over the world created a lot of essays to share with readers their ideas and feelings. Continue to read and study the world of famous essay writers, and perhaps, in one day you will have the chance to become a popular essayist too.
Read more Types of essays articles:
Robert Atwan, the founder of The Best American Essays series, picks the 10 best essays of the postwar period. Links to the essays are provided when available.
Fortunately, when I worked with Joyce Carol Oates on The Best American Essays of the Century (that’s the last century, by the way), we weren’t restricted to ten selections. So to make my list of the top ten essays since 1950 less impossible, I decided to exclude all the great examples of New Journalism--Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese, Michael Herr, and many others can be reserved for another list. I also decided to include only American writers, so such outstanding English-language essayists as Chris Arthur and Tim Robinson are missing, though they have appeared in The Best American Essays series. And I selected essays, not essayists. A list of the top ten essayists since 1950 would feature some different writers.
To my mind, the best essays are deeply personal (that doesn’t necessarily mean autobiographical) and deeply engaged with issues and ideas. And the best essays show that the name of the genre is also a verb, so they demonstrate a mind in process--reflecting, trying-out, essaying.
James Baldwin, "Notes of a Native Son" (originally appeared in Harper’s, 1955)
“I had never thought of myself as an essayist,” wrote James Baldwin, who was finishing his novel Giovanni’s Room while he worked on what would become one of the great American essays. Against a violent historical background, Baldwin recalls his deeply troubled relationship with his father and explores his growing awareness of himself as a black American. Some today may question the relevance of the essay in our brave new “post-racial” world, though Baldwin considered the essay still relevant in 1984 and, had he lived to see it, the election of Barak Obama may not have changed his mind. However you view the racial politics, the prose is undeniably hypnotic, beautifully modulated and yet full of urgency. Langston Hughes nailed it when he described Baldwin’s “illuminating intensity.” The essay was collected in Notes of a Native Son courageously (at the time) published by Beacon Press in 1955.
Norman Mailer, "The White Negro" (originally appeared in Dissent, 1957)
An essay that packed an enormous wallop at the time may make some of us cringe today with its hyperbolic dialectics and hyperventilated metaphysics. But Mailer’s attempt to define the “hipster”–in what reads in part like a prose version of Ginsberg’s “Howl”–is suddenly relevant again, as new essays keep appearing with a similar definitional purpose, though no one would mistake Mailer’s hipster (“a philosophical psychopath”) for the ones we now find in Mailer’s old Brooklyn neighborhoods. Odd, how terms can bounce back into life with an entirely different set of connotations. What might Mailer call the new hipsters? Squares?
Read the essay here.
Susan Sontag, "Notes on 'Camp'" (originally appeared in Partisan Review, 1964)
Like Mailer’s “White Negro,” Sontag’s groundbreaking essay was an ambitious attempt to define a modern sensibility, in this case “camp,” a word that was then almost exclusively associated with the gay world. I was familiar with it as an undergraduate, hearing it used often by a set of friends, department store window decorators in Manhattan. Before I heard Sontag—thirty-one, glamorous, dressed entirely in black-- read the essay on publication at a Partisan Review gathering, I had simply interpreted “campy” as an exaggerated style or over-the-top behavior. But after Sontag unpacked the concept, with the help of Oscar Wilde, I began to see the cultural world in a different light. “The whole point of camp,” she writes, “is to dethrone the serious.” Her essay, collected in Against Interpretation (1966), is not in itself an example of camp.
Read the essay here.
John McPhee, "The Search for Marvin Gardens" (originally appeared in The New Yorker, 1972)
“Go. I roll the dice—a six and a two. Through the air I move my token, the flatiron, to Vermont Avenue, where dog packs range.” And so we move, in this brilliantly conceived essay, from a series of Monopoly games to a decaying Atlantic City, the once renowned resort town that inspired America’s most popular board game. As the games progress and as properties are rapidly snapped up, McPhee juxtaposes the well-known sites on the board—Atlantic Avenue, Park Place—with actual visits to their crumbling locations. He goes to jail, not just in the game but in fact, portraying what life has now become in a city that in better days was a Boardwalk Empire. At essay’s end, he finds the elusive Marvin Gardens. The essay was collected in Pieces of the Frame (1975).
Read the essay here (subscription required).
Joan Didion, "The White Album" (originally appeared in New West, 1979)
Huey Newton, Eldridge Cleaver, and the Black Panthers, a recording session with Jim Morrison and the Doors, the San Francisco State riots, the Manson murders—all of these, and much more, figure prominently in Didion’s brilliant mosaic distillation (or phantasmagoric album) of California life in the late 1960s. Yet despite a cast of characters larger than most Hollywood epics, “The White Album” is a highly personal essay, right down to Didion’s report of her psychiatric tests as an outpatient in a Santa Monica hospital in the summer of 1968. “We tell ourselves stories in order to live,” the essay famously begins, and as it progresses nervously through cuts and flashes of reportage, with transcripts, interviews, and testimonies, we realize that all of our stories are questionable, “the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images.” Portions of the essay appeared in installments in 1968-69 but it wasn’t until 1979 that Didion published the complete essay in New West magazine; it then became the lead essay of her book, The White Album (1979).
Annie Dillard, "Total Eclipse" (originally appeared in Antaeus, 1982)
In her introduction to The Best American Essays 1988, Annie Dillard claims that “The essay can do everything a poem can do, and everything a short story can do—everything but fake it.” Her essay “Total Eclipse” easily makes her case for the imaginative power of a genre that is still undervalued as a branch of imaginative literature. “Total Eclipse” has it all—the climactic intensity of short fiction, the interwoven imagery of poetry, and the meditative dynamics of the personal essay: “This was the universe about which we have read so much and never before felt: the universe as a clockwork of loose spheres flung at stupefying, unauthorized speeds.” The essay, which first appeared in Antaeus in 1982 was collected in Teaching a Stone to Talk (1982), a slim volume that ranks among the best essay collections of the past fifty years.
Phillip Lopate, "Against Joie de Vivre" (originally appeared in Ploughshares, 1986)
This is an essay that made me glad I’d started The Best American Essays the year before. I’d been looking for essays that grew out of a vibrant Montaignean spirit—personal essays that were witty, conversational, reflective, confessional, and yet always about something worth discussing. And here was exactly what I’d been looking for. I might have found such writing several decades earlier but in the 80s it was relatively rare; Lopate had found a creative way to insert the old familiar essay into the contemporary world: “Over the years,” Lopate begins, “I have developed a distaste for the spectacle of joie de vivre, the knack of knowing how to live.” He goes on to dissect in comic yet astute detail the rituals of the modern dinner party. The essay was selected by Gay Talese for The Best American Essays 1987 and collected in Against Joie de Vivre in 1989.
Read the essay here.
Edward Hoagland, "Heaven and Nature" (originally appeared in Harper’s, 1988)
“The best essayist of my generation,” is how John Updike described Edward Hoagland, who must be one of the most prolific essayists of our time as well. “Essays,” Hoagland wrote, “are how we speak to one another in print—caroming thoughts not merely in order to convey a certain packet of information, but with a special edge or bounce of personal character in a kind of public letter.” I could easily have selected many other Hoagland essays for this list (such as “The Courage of Turtles”), but I’m especially fond of “Heaven and Nature,” which shows Hoagland at his best, balancing the public and private, the well-crafted general observation with the clinching vivid example. The essay, selected by Geoffrey Wolff for The Best American Essays 1989 and collected in Heart’s Desire (1988), is an unforgettable meditation not so much on suicide as on how we remarkably manage to stay alive.
Jo Ann Beard, "The Fourth State of Matter" (originally appeared in The New Yorker, 1996)
A question for nonfiction writing students: When writing a true story based on actual events, how does the narrator create dramatic tension when most readers can be expected to know what happens in the end? To see how skillfully this can be done turn to Jo Ann Beard’s astonishing personal story about a graduate student’s murderous rampage on the University of Iowa campus in 1991. “Plasma is the fourth state of matter,” writes Beard, who worked in the U of I’s physics department at the time of the incident, “You’ve got your solid, your liquid, your gas, and there’s your plasma. In outer space there’s the plasmasphere and the plasmapause.” Besides plasma, in this emotion-packed essay you will find entangled in all the tension a lovable, dying collie, invasive squirrels, an estranged husband, the seriously disturbed gunman, and his victims, one of them among the author’s dearest friends. Selected by Ian Frazier for The Best American Essays 1997, the essay was collected in Beard’s award-winning volume, The Boys of My Youth (1998).
Read the essay here.
David Foster Wallace, "Consider the Lobster" (originally appeared in Gourmet, 2004)
They may at first look like magazine articles—those factually-driven, expansive pieces on the Illinois State Fair, a luxury cruise ship, the adult video awards, or John McCain’s 2000 presidential campaign—but once you uncover the disguise and get inside them you are in the midst of essayistic genius. One of David Foster Wallace’s shortest and most essayistic is his “coverage” of the annual Maine Lobster Festival, “Consider the Lobster.” The Festival becomes much more than an occasion to observe “the World’s Largest Lobster Cooker” in action as Wallace poses an uncomfortable question to readers of the upscale food magazine: “Is it all right to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure?” Don’t gloss over the footnotes. Susan Orlean selected the essay for The Best American Essays 2004 and Wallace collected it in Consider the Lobster and Other Essays (2005).
Read the essay here. (Note: the electronic version from Gourmet magazine’s archives differs from the essay that appears in The Best American Essays and in his book, Consider the Lobster.)
I wish I could include twenty more essays but these ten in themselves comprise a wonderful and wide-ranging mini-anthology, one that showcases some of the most outstanding literary voices of our time. Readers who’d like to see more of the best essays since 1950 should take a look at The Best American Essays of the Century (2000).