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AC Grayling surveys the essential literature from Bacon to Orwell

By AC Grayling   November 1996

Two whole territories of English literature have been sunk by the rising tides of uneducation. One is the literature of England in Latin-few now read, say, Milton and Marvell in what was Europe’s common tongue for 1,500 years-and the other is the essay. Of the two, loss of the latter is far the most regrettable, for English is incomparably rich in the art of the essay, to which a significant portion of its greatest literature belongs.

The following paragraphs name 20 of the art’s best exponents, and the cited essays exemplify their best. Good secondhand bookshops abound in collections and…

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