Prime Essays of EliaAuthor Charles Lamb –

Sometimes I get used to finding literary corners thoroughly well colonised on goodreads and feel surprised when I find one that is less so, as with this Anyway, I loved this It s certainly journalism the mode is primarily riffs on a superficial theme Lamb might be a little too affected for some in the way he transitions from the ostensible subject to some other destination or in his conceits a little too self consciously quaint perhaps I didn t really know what to expect, and was a little surprised to find the introduction concentrated on nostalgia But yes, nostalgia is the point here Little pictures of things and people from Lamb s past, or his present, with the understanding that the present too is already the past as we speak Lamb regrets the passing of time He doesn t want to die and he clings to his world He appreciates its idiosyncrasies above all, which are always temporary I found the wistfulness a surprisingly powerful and penetrating atmosphere Lamb is very honest, in that personal essay composed by a literary construction way, about his neediness I love feeling like I am entering into individual experience and it s especially piquant when the person is long dead I enjoy the nineteenth century way of writing about the eighteenth century early nineteenth century as the lost yesterday of childhood or family memory It makes it seem quintessentially past than our own perspective.The writing isn t musical it s hard to make it sound complimentary, but it s like an extremely satisfying mechanical sound that sounds like everything being in exactly the right place.I particularly liked the discussions of actors and how they make a difference to their roles, like different authors writing the same plot, I suppose, and how acting styles have changed I didn t feel I needed to have seen them Some reviewers were frustrated by their lack of understanding of contemporary references I think this is less of an issue than they realised since to some extent the whole point is that Lamb is talking of things that are no longer current, that he s talking to people who may not remember these things. Suffered from melancholia and nostalgia, gargled gin and water Sister killed mother with a table knife, then went on to write children s versions of Shakespeare s comedies He wrote the tragedies Sold. Charles Lamb, One Of The Most Engaging Personal Essayists Of All Time, Began Publishing His Unforgettable, Entertaining Elia Essays In The London Magazine In They Were So Immediately Popular That A Book Length Collection Was Published In Inventing The Persona Of Elia Allowed Lamb To Be Shockingly Honest And To Gain A Playful Distance For Self Examination The Resulting Essays Touch Upon A Wide Range Of Compelling Subjects From The Deliciously Humorous Dissertation Upon Roast Pig To The Poignantly Reflective New Year S Eve Yet Collectively They Also Comprise A Fascinating Personal Memoir, Veiled Under The Pseudonymous Disguise Of Elia Now Back In Print With A New Foreword By The Distinguished Personal Essayist Phillip Lopate And With Useful Annotations, Essays Of Elia Will Provide A Delicious Stylistic Treat For All Readers Re reading Lamb s essays, I bow yet again to the man s unimprovable genius for words This is some of the very best English, and these are some of the very best essays, you will ever read The man s life, too If I had my way we d be calling him Saint Charles Lamb. This is what happens when you read essays written 200 years ago, in which the author has contemporary readers strictly in mind complete and utter lack of historical context The strange thing was, I loved his writing style precisely because it is so old fashioned and, well, archaic On the flip side, this anachronistic quality dooms some of his essay to obscurity when he spends dozens of pages waxing long about theatre players whom he obviously expects the reader to have prior knowledge of There are end notes written circa 1925 to help the reader on their way, but I have an unfortunate aversion to reading end notes so perhaps I am partly to blame for my lack of comprehension at some parts in the reading of these essays However, a few essays were on universal themes Grace Before Meat , A Dissertation Upon Roast Pig , A Bachelor s Complaint Of the Behaviour Of Married People in particular Those made me chuckle. I give up I appreciate Lamb s skill but I, a somewhat well educated and moderately intelligent reader, find him too hard to keep up with It s not only the outdated allusions, with which any such essays will be replete, and it is not only L s use of now archaic conventions and that make it so difficult to read Several times I found myself reading along like a good citizen of the literary highway and Wham Out of the blue I realize I have no idea where I am or how I got there Some of that is probably my fault, but some of it, I think, just might be the fault of L I have too much money invested in sweaters.But B H has nothing sensible to say to my confundment or perplexification on attempting to read L in his guise of E Don t get me wrong It s not all just confusification and haplidolidol I read The South Sea House, in which, pointless as it was, Lamb did a fine job of delineating the characters of several persons so carefully I felt I knew them, before he pulled the rug from under me In Oxford in the vacation he had a couple of good sentences, but I don t have the energy to go looking for them to quote them Christ s Hospital five and thirty years ago did something really amazing, until it went off the rails and I didn t know what he was writing about any As Elia, Lamb severely disagrees with an essay he had written under his own name about the orphanage in which he grew up As Lamb he seems to have thought it a rather decent place As Elia, he found it horrid and abusive, the terrible conditions and hatred of children we expect of that era from having read Dickens This was masterful and worth the read Then I pressed on and read The two races of Men This, excepting the tedium, was really somewhat funny He divides humans into two races those who lend and those who borrow He humorously finds the borrowers to be expansive and interesting than the lenders Finally, I wound up reading New Year s Eve on New Year s Eve, with no premeditation whatsoever I was expecting to have a serendipitous time with many witty or insightful observations, but, sadly, no It was interesting to find that so long ago New Year s was as big a day, with its different ways of being celebrated, as it is today And I meant to but did not take to heart his practice of reviewing the old year first and then planning for the new But it was tedious and dull and confusing and I forced myself to the end and then I quit Whew By all means, read Lamb for historical interest if you like, and I hope you find it interesting than I did But life is short and if you have too many books on your list, skip this one for now. For me the best of all essayists in English, surpassing even Johnson and De Quincey But to reduce this merely to a book of essays misses, I think, the essential strangeness of the project, one which slyly grapples with fictions and imposture and the nature or existence of personal truths while remaining immensely moving, even haunting A great book, and rather neglected despite its stature. Really enjoyed it Anne Fadiman put me onto his trail Yeah bitches Who did these annotations I DID THESE ANNOTATIONS And yes, they re awesome Charles Lamb ain t so bad himself Buy it Read it Behold the masterful annotations. I can rise at the Chapel Bell, and dream that it rings for me Oxford in the Vacation What a place to be in is an old library I do not want to handle, to profane the leaves, their winding sheets I seem to inhale learning, walking amid their foliage, and the odour of their old moth scented coverings is fragrant as the first bloom of those sciential apples which grew amid the happy orchard Oxford in the Vacation what so pleasant as to be reading a book through a long winter evening, with a friend sitting by say, a wife he, or she, too, if that be probable , reading another, without interruption, or oral communication A Quaker s Meeting After reading preceding Essayists, I presumed Lamb s Essays would also contain moralising aplenty, but this was not the case Instead, Lamb paints a charming portrait of himself and his life, and the Essays are very much of their time Once I acquainted myself with his style, I found his writing very pleasant, and there were a few Essays I really enjoyed.If you have an interest in Lamb or his circle which included Coleridge, Wordsworth, Hazlitt, and De Quincey , late 18th Century early 19th Century London, or a writing style of this time, you may find much to enjoy in this collection.But if you ve come from Montaigne, Burton, Bacon, Johnson, Hume, Hazlitt, c., expecting something similar, you ll have to look elsewhereI in particular used to spend many hours by myself, in gazing upon the old busts of the Twelve C sars, that had been Emperors of Rome, till the old marble heads would seem to live again, or I to be turned into marble with them My First Play Antiquity Thou wondrous charm The mighty future is as nothing The past is every thing Oxford in the Vacation Reader, if haply thou art blessed with a moderate collection, be shy of showing it, or if thy heart overfloweth to lend them, lend thy books, but let it be to such a one as S T C he will return them generally anticipating the time appointed with usury enriched with annotations, tripling their value The Two Races of Men With long poring, he is grown almost into a book Oxford in the Vacation I am hanging over for the thousandth time some passage in old Burton Mackery End, in Hertfordshire You may derive thoughts from others your way of thinking, the mould in which your thoughts are cast, must be your own Intellect may be imparted, but not each man s intellectual frame The Old and the New Schoolmaster I hate people who meet time halfway I am for no compromise with that inevitable spoiler My Relations