Understanding the Essay

Patricia Foster and Jeff Porter, editors
Published in 2012
by Broadview Press

In Understanding the Essay, Patricia Foster and Jeff Porter have gathered the work of a wide range of acclaimed essayists, including James Baldwin, Joan Didion, Jamaica Kincaid, George Orwell, David Foster Wallace, and Virginia Woolf. Each writer is introduced with a contextual biography, followed by a piece by another essayist—such as Eula Biss writing about Anne Carson’s “On Trout,” Patricia Hampl writing about F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Crack-Up,” and Phillip Lopate writing about William Hazlitt’s “On the Pleasure of Hating”—which offers insightful analysis of a specific essay, and refreshing perspectives on the possibilities of the form.