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About The Humble Essayist

The Humble Essayist

Mission 2014

We agree with Vivian Gornick who writes in The Situation and the Story that essayists, when they are writing, are only interested in their own existence as a means of “penetrating the situation at hand.”  They are “truth speakers”  and their delight is not in self aggrandizement but in the illumination of an idea.


THE  is a website devoted to the personal essay, with occasional features on the reflective memoir, forms that use the personal to shine light on a truth that speaks to us all.  Our main feature is the “Paragraph of the Week.”  Every Friday we choose a single paragraph from the work of a renowned or promising writer and display it on the front page of the site beside commentary by The Humble Essayist.  The commentary pays attention to the craft of the paragraph—celebrating the beauty of the author’s stylistic choices—but also shows how that paragraph embodies and serves a theme that the author is exploring.


The inaugural issue of  THE  was July 4, 2014, which was 169 years to the day after Henry David Thoreau moved to his cabin on Walden pond.    The first “Paragraph of the Week” was devoted to a passage from Thoreau's "Walking”, one of the most stunning and influential essays ever written.  It was an auspicious beginning for our humble enterprise.


In addition to the “Paragraph of the Week” we also offer an archive of the year’s paragraphs with commentary, a way to contact us, and links to other sites that promote essays and memoirs.  Finally, you can learn about the humble essayist himself with the tab marked THE.  It is our humble wish that THE will introduce you to many engaging authors, styles, and ideas.

Praise for The Humble Essayist

"Thank you Steve, for offering this place to readers and for bringing attention to Braiding Sweetgrass. Your ability to distill the essence is most admirable!" Robin Kimmerer author of Braiding Sweetgrass.

"Thank you @THEsharvey for this smart and generous take on that paragraph, that essay, and the whole darned book!" Bethany Maile, author of Anything Will Be Easier after This.

"Your summation, the Commentary paragraph that begins “Dinty W. Moore uses jokes, parodies, even comics to poke fun at the absurdities of Dante and the Catholic Church,” is such a clear, generous, and intelligent insight into what it was I was trying to do with the book, and, with immeasurable gratitude and sincerity, the fact that you saw it means the world to me." Dinty Moore, author of To Hell with It.

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