The Ten Greatest Essays, Ever

Luc Sante

James Agee, “Comedy’s Greatest Era”

(from Life, 1949)

A. J. Liebling: “Nothing but a Little Pissant”

(from The Earl of Louisiana, 1961)

Elizabeth Hardwick, “Billie Holiday”

(from Sleepless Nights, 1979)

Joan Didion, “The White Album”

(from The White Album, 1979)

Henry James, “Saratoga”

(from The Nation, August 3, 1870)

Mark Twain, “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses”

(from The Unabridged Twain, 1895)

Joseph Mitchell, “Up in the Old Hotel”

(from Up in the Old Hotel, 1992)

F. Scott Fitzgerald, “My Lost City”

(from My Lost City: Personal Essays 1920-1940, 1932)

Manny Farber, “White Elephant Art vs. Termite Art”

(from Film Culture, 1962)

Geoff Dyer, “Thelonious Monk”

(from But Beautiful, 1996)

Back To List

About Luc Sante

Luc Sante is the author of five collections of essays, including Low Life, Walker Evans, The Factory of Facts, Evidence, and Kill All Your Darlings, a collected volume of his essays from 1990 to 2005. For the past 14 years he’s been a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, offering award-winning criticism on books, film, art, and photography. He has also translated Felix Feneon’s Novels in Three Lines and collaborated with Melissa Holbrook Pierson on OK You Mugs: Writers on Movie Actors. The recipient of a Whiting Writer’s Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and even a Grammy, Sante teaches writing at Bard College in New York.