Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Birthday: "Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts."

E.B. White has been dead over thirty years, and I miss him most every day. He was an American writer down to the ground, plainspoken and elegant, like the farm buildings of his adopted Maine, or the boats his son Joel built on the coast there. Listening to him read "that scene" in Charlotte's Web still makes me tear up. In 2011, NPR reported,
In old age, when he was suffering from Alzheimer's, White liked to have his own essays and books read to him. Sometimes, White would ask who wrote what he was listening to, and his chief reader, his son Joe, would tell him, "You did, Dad." Sims says White "would think about this odd fact for a moment and sometimes murmur, 'Not bad.' "
This is an abbreviated appreciation. I let his work speak for itself. Some writers are great beyond my ability to express it.

Elwyn Brooks White (1899-1985)
Journalist, Author
Staff Writer, editor, The New Yorker, 1927-1985
Columnist, Harper’s 1938-1943
Recipient, The Presidential Medal of Freedom, 1963
Recipient, The Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, 1970
Fellow, The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1973
Recipient, The Pulitzer Prize, 1978

Books by E.B. White
  • The Lady is Cold – Poems by E. B. W. (1929)
  • Is Sex Necessary? Or, Why You Feel the Way You Do (1929, with James Thurber)
  • Alice Through the Cellophane, John Day (1933)
  • Subtreasury of American Humor (1941)
  • One Man's Meat (1942) A collection of his columns from Harper's Magazine.
  • The Wild Flag (1943)
  • Stuart Little (1945)
  • Here Is New York (1949)
  • Charlotte's Web (1952)
  • The Second Tree From The Corner (1954)
  • The Elements of Style (with William Strunk, Jr.) (1959, republished 1972, 1979, 1999, 2005)
  • The Points of My Compass (1962)
  • The Trumpet of the Swan (1970)
  • Letters of E.B. White (1976)
  • Essays of E.B. White (1977)
  • Poems and Sketches of E.B. White (1981)
  • Writings from "The New Yorker" (1990)
  • In the Words of E. B. White (2011)

From a remembrance of his stepfather, the writer Roger Angell recalls taking two visiting children to E. B White’s farm:

The girl asked which doorway might have been the one where Charlotte had spun her web, and she mentioned Templeton, the rat, and Fern, the little girl who befriends Wilbur. She was visiting a museum, I sensed, and she would remember things here to tell her friends about later. The boy, though, was quieter, and for a while I thought that our visit was a disappointment to him. Then I stole another look at him, and I understood. I think I understood. He was taking note of the place, almost checking off corners and shadows and smells to himself as we walked about the old farm, but he wasn’t trying to remember them. He looked like someone who had been there before, and indeed he had, for he was a reader. Andy White had given him the place long before he ever set foot on it—not this farm, exactly, but the one in the book, the one now in the boy’s mind. Only true writers—the rare few of them—can do this, but their deed to us is in perpetuity. The boy didn’t get to meet E. B. White that day, but he already had him by heart. He had him for good.”

Related sites:

Paris Review, “The Art of the Essay, No. 1”, Issue 48, Fall, 1969.
“Death of A Pig, The Atlantic, January, 1948
Herbert Mitgang, “E.B. White, Essayist and Stylist, Dies,” The New York Times, October 2, 1985

No comments:

Post a Comment

We enjoy hearing from visitors! Please leave your questions, thoughts, wish lists, or whatever else is on your mind.