Saturday, July 18, 2009

Why Charles Lamb?

If Henry James is The Master of my youth, Charles Lamb is the friend of my middle age. There is no one to whom I have turned with greater affection in my forties. Charles Lamb, in all his moods, in his essays as Elia, in his wonderful letters, drunk or sober, mischievous or melancholy, is the most amusing, companionable, -- the most humane and human -- of the great English essayists.

"My Relations" is a brief memoir of family, at greatest length of Lamb's only brother, here lightly disguised as a "cousin." Theirs was not an easy fraternity, but not so much so as to exclude each from the other's heart.

It is Lamb's heart, among the best in our literature, that invites affection, his style that rewards study, and his gentle good humor that makes the reader better for having met him.

Why Charles Lamb? Because he is my friend.

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