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The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb - Volume 2

Charles Lamb

Book Overview: 

Discursive ramblings of a generous mind, no-one would know from Lamb's conversational button-holing of you and telling you whatever is on his mind that his sister had killed their mother and he had spent his life looking after her; had collaborated with her, in fact, on their Tales From Shakespeare. This world was made by God, he once remarked, but He has left it for humanity to bustle about in. These are Lamb's reflections on said bustlings. He once said of his close friend Coleridge that the man was hungry for eternity; but Lamb was hungry for humanity. He satisfies this hunger admirably in these Last Essays.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Of building strong, albeit of Paper hight,

confronting, with massy contrast, the lighter, older, more fantastically shrouded one, named of Harcourt, with the cheerful Crown-office Row (place of my kindly engendure), right opposite the stately stream, which washes the garden-foot with her yet scarcely trade-polluted waters, and seems but just weaned from her Twickenham Naiades! a man would give something to have been born in such places. What a collegiate aspect has that fine Elizabethan hall, where the fountain plays, which I have made to rise and fall, how many times! to the astoundment of the young urchins, my contemporaries, who, not being able to guess at its recondite machinery, were almost tempted to hail the wondrous work as magic! What an antique air had the now almost effaced sundials, with their moral inscriptions, seeming coevals with that Time which they measured, and to take their revelations of its flight immediately from heaven, holdin. . . 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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