The Christian Science Monitor

'The Ideal of Culture' showcases Joseph Epstein’s familiar ease with the treasures of Western culture

In a long career, Joseph Epstein has divided his primary work about evenly between literary essays – pieces about books and authors – and familiar essays about topics as varied as puns, naps, thrift, name-dropping, the pleasures of magazines, and the perils of plastic surgery.

The distinction between his two fields of writing has seemed less important over time, since his literary essays brim with personal anecdote and his familiar essays sparkle with literary allusions. What unites them all

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