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The Lost Origins of the Essay

Edited by John D'Agata

I think the reason we’ve never pinpointed the real beginning to this genre is because we’ve never agreed on what the genre even is. Do we read nonfiction in order to receive information, or do we read it to experience art? It’s not very clear sometimes. This, then, is a book that tries to offer a clear objective: I am here in search of art. I am here to track the origins of an alternative to commerce.

John D’Agata leaves no tablet unturned in his exploration of the roots of the essay. In this soaring anthology he takes the reader from ancient Mesopotamia to classical Greece and Rome, from fifth-century Japan to nineteenth-century France, to modern Brazil, Germany, Barbados, and beyond. With brief and brilliant introductions to seminal works by Heraclitus, Sei Sho-nagon, Michel de Montaigne, Jonathan Swift, Virginia Woolf, Marguerite Duras, Octavio Paz, and more than forty other luminaries, D’Agata reexamines the international forebears of today’s American nonfiction. This idiosyncratic collection makes a perfect historical companion to D’Agata’s The Next American Essay, a touchstone among students and practitioners of the lyric essay.

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$25.00
ISBN
978-1-55597-532-6
Format
Paperback
Publication Date
Pages
656
Trim Size
6 x 9
An expansive and exhilarating world tour of innovative nonfiction writing

About the Author

John  D'Agata
Credit: Thomas Langdon
John D’Agata is the editor of The Making of the American Essay, the author of Halls of Fame and The Lifespan of a Fact, and the editor of The Next American Essay and The Lost Origins of the Essay. He teaches creative writing at the University of Iowa, where he directs the Nonfiction Writing Program.

https://www.johndagata.com/
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Praise

  • “The essays [D’Agata has] selected do compose a brilliant constellation.”Hot Metal Bridge
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