Review Excerpt: CHOICE

In this highly readable study, Stuckey-French traces the history of the essay in the US over the first half of the 20th century, showing how essayists responded to or ignored social and political currents. Dismissed by the elite as a stodgy British genre, the essay was claimed in the early part of the century by the growing middlebrow readers of the new popular magazines. The author brings a sympathetic understanding of the people of the new middle class, their yearning to become sophisticated, and the role of magazine advertisements and essays in guiding their way. …Stuckey-French demonstrates what is lost when freshman-writing anthologies isolate essays such as White’s “Once More to the Lake” from their historical and social context. Highly recommended.

—C. A. Bily, CHOICE

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