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The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb

Charles Lamb and Mary Lamb

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Gin Lane. Here is plenty of poverty and low stuff to disgust upon a superficial view; and accordingly, a cold spectator feels himself immediately disgusted and repelled. I have seen many turn away from it, not being able to bear it. The same persons would perhaps have looked with great complacency upon Poussin's celebrated picture of the Plague of Athens.[8] Disease and Death and bewildering Terror in Athenian garments are endurable, and come, as the delicate critics express it, within the "limits of pleasurable sensation." But the scenes of their own St. Giles's, delineated by their own countryman, are too shocking to think of. Yet if we could abstract our minds from the fascinating colours of the picture, and forget the coarse execution (in some respects) of the print, intended as it was to be a cheap plate, accessible to the poorer sort of people, for whose instruction it was done, I think we could have no hesitation in conferring the palm of superior genius upon Hogar. . . Read More

Community Reviews

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 re

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 sid

My copy was printed in 1898 and was super cheap on ebay. And whenever I read this book I love holding it in my hands and thinking about how old it is and how sweet and funny it can be even now. I tracked this down because of "Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" - it's the book that 2 mai

The peaks of these essays are exceptionally high, but one gets one's fair share of plateaus and depths. Elia is at his best when he plays with you. This is in evidence in such classics as 'The South-Sea House' and 'Dream-Children'. 'Mackery End' strikes me as one of the most beautiful and heartbreak

"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

These essays evoke different reactions based on their topic and especially how Lamb frames the essay itself. I felt that I almost needed a warm up period for this book because it took a couple of pages before I accustomed myself to his language and style of writing. However, once I got going, I trul

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 ma

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.”

Really enjoyed it. Anne Fadiman put me onto his trail...more

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

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