Charles Lamb as a Personal Essayist

1857 Words Dec 21st, 2012 8 Pages
CHARLES LAMB AS A PERSONAL ESSAYIST
Charles Lamb has been acclaimed by common consent as the Prince among English essayist. He occupies a unique position in the history of English essay. William Hazlitt, himself a great essayist, praised Lamb in high terms: “The prose essays, under the signature of Elia form the most delightful section amongst Lamb’s works. They traverse a peculiar field of observation, sequestered from general interest, and they are composed in a spirit too delicate and unobtrusive to catch the ear of the noisy crowd, clamouring for strong sensations. This retiring delicacy itself, the pensiveness chequered by gleams of the fanciful, and the humour that is touched with cross-lights of pathos, together with the picturesque
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For example, in Christ’s Hospital he tells about his days of childhood at the Temple, in Blakesmoor in Hertfordshire, he describes his boyish days of fun and merry making, his holiday trips to the sea-side with his sister Mary, his recovery from serious illness, the drudgery of the office work and other various details of his life. In My Relations, he gives full and living pictures of his relations—his brother John (James Elia) and his sister Mary (Bridget Elia). His father is the Lovel of the Old Benchers, his grandmother in Dream Children. In the words of H. G. Hill, “Apart from these biographical details revealed in his essays, the man himself is more than reflected in his work.” Lamb’s sweet and charming personality reflected in his essays is the secret of the popularity of Essays of Elia.

Humour in the essays of Lamb is the humour of life. It is most akin to pathos. We can say that it is saving grace for him, for after all it enables him to detach himself from the painful realities, or rather to view them as things apart from himself. Lamb
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