About the Book
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.
About the Author
Born in New York City, Jascha Kessler (Ph.D., Litt.D.) has received research grants, prizes, and writing fellowships since 1952 when he won a Major Hopwood Award for Poetry (University of Michigan). They include the NEA Fellowship in Writing, two Senior Fulbright Awards to Italy and one to Czechoslovakia. Since 1961, he has been a Professor of Modern English & American Literature at UCLA, also teaching poetry, fi ction, and playwrighting. In 1979, Mr. Kessler was a Rockefeller Fellow and worked at the Bellagio Study Center, completing his translation (with Amin Banani) of the modern Persian poet Forugh Farrokhzad: BRIDE OF ACACIAS: THE POETRY OF FORUGH FARROKHZAD (Caravan Books, Delmar, NY: 1983). He won a California Arts Council Fellowship in Fiction Writing for 1993-1994. He reviewed fi ction and poetry weekly, theater and events on the air for KUSC-FM (Los Angeles) for 5 years in the 1980s; several dozen of his reviews, both broadcast and published in magazines and papers since the 1960s, have been anthologized in CONTEMPORARY LITERARY CRITICISM (Gale Research) over the decades. His literary essays have appeared widely. Among other books, translations of prose and poetry from the Hungarian, Serbian, and Bulgarian. His latest book is SIREN SONGS & CLASSICAL ILLUSIONS, also revised and expanded with a Preface as an eBook [McPherson & Company]. He also served as Arts Commissioner for the City of Santa Monica, California, from 1990-1996.