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Essays

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An essay is an exercise in communicating the essence of argumentation—at best a presentation of whatever seems worth consideration either today or might be tomorrow. Occasions set down in words are arbitrary, precarious, at best haphazard. They are brought forward by impulses from the world outside and beyond the personal, caught in flight by the circumstances and vicissitudes of a life. Between the person described in the first of these varied prosings and the last offered—between the "what" I thought I was and the "who" I may have been—seventy-five years have passed. Whether deserving of another person's attention is not a judgment for this writer to make.

Michel de Montaigne offers no better justification or excuse than to say he was concerned to study himself. His genius was not only fine but bold. What he wrote of himself in his world and what he took from great ancient writers is superlative in its objective, modest egoism and wisdom. As a casual essayist, I expect not the least comparison with that admirable and freest of men. All I can hope for is that whatever my reader may find worth the time passed with this volume offers as much diversion and entertainment as perhaps did my verse, fiction, and drama published during those same past years.

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