We last checked in on Joseph Epstein when we read his pensive essay in the Weekly Standard about turning 70. He quoted the poet W. H. Auden who cleverly said it was a wise thing at this time of life to "let all your thanks be thanks." Epstein notes that one of the liberating things about this age is that there is no more need to prove himself. He is willing to settle for being a top-drawer writer appreciated by thoughtful people.

A Literary Education showcases this writer's erudition, imagination, and wisdom as one of the best essayists in America. These 38 essays span 50 years of his writing about education, language, the arts, magazines, intellectuals, and the culture. Epstein comes across as an immensely gifted and thoughtful polymath in a time when many of his younger peers are burnt out or filled with cynicism. In the introduction, he recalls having his first essay published when he was 22 years old. This volume is his thirteenth collection of essays, and we hope that he will keep on writing in this wonderful genre.

There are so many gems in A Literary Education that it is hard to know which to mention and which to leave out. Here are some of the observations that stayed with us: Epstein's efforts during a 30-year career teaching literature courses in order to instill in students "the rich complexity of life" described by the great writers of yesteryear; his coming-of-age during the 1950s with its crushing "combination of ambition and conformity"; his release from "bondage to the whole-earth catalogue of left-wing views and his search for "more modulated and realistic ones"; in a review of Susan Jacoby's book Never Say Die, his preference for the up-tempo vision of conscious aging by Cicero over the tirades of this journalist; his delight in Seriously Funny