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The Art of Growing Older

Writers on Living and Aging

Wayne Booth has selected, and has been inspired by, the works by some of our greatest writers on the art of growing older. In this widely praised anthology he shows that the very making of art is in itself a victory over time.
Culled chiefly from great literary works, this unusual compendium of prose and poetry . . . highlights the physical and emotional aspects of aging. . . . The thoughtful commentary with which Booth connects the selections reminds readers that physical decay and fear of death are conditions common to us all. . . . Provocative."—Publishers Weekly
"His blending of literature, humor, and crotchetiness will capture the interest of readers of all ages."—Booklist

"Funny . . . profound. . . . It is hard to resist the closing chapters, which celebrate the freedom from constraint and ambition, the permission to be crotchety, the joy of memory and perspective that come with age."—William March, Tampa Tribune
"Booth puts a new spin on the worries many of us have about what’s catching up with us. . . . Booth’s book . . . [is] for both the younger readers and those of us who are nervously counting birthdays."—Sacramento Bee

386 pages | 10 halftones | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 | © 1992

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory

Table of Contents

Introduction: Feeling Older
From Essays
"Death be not proud"
John Donne
"Timor mortis conturbat me"
From A Margin of Hope
Irving Howe
From "The Tower"
W. B. Yeats
From "Sailing to Byzantium"
W. B. Yeats
"Lines Written on the Eve of a Birthday"
Kelly Cherry
From Gulliver’s Travels
Jonathan Swift
From Macbeth
William Shakespeare
From As You Like It
William Shakespeare
From "Sonnet on Turning Twenty-three"
John Milton
From "On Being Twenty-six"
Philip Larkin
From "On This Day I Complete My Thirty-sixth Year"
George Gordon, Lord Byron
From On Old Age
From "Rabbi Ben Ezra"
Robert Browning
Letter to Malcolm Cowley
Kenneth Burke
From The View from 80
Malcolm Cowley
"This is what human beauty comes to"
Francois Villon
From Satire X
From Epistolae morales
From The Canterbury Tales
Geoffrey Chaucer
"The problem, unstated till now, is how"
Adrienne Rich
"It’s true, these last few years I’ve lived"
Adrienne Rich
"One Art"
Elizabeth Bishop
From Self-Consciousness: A Memoir
John Updike
From "The Vanity of Human Wishes"
Samuel Johnson
"Dear Charles, My Muse, asleep or dead"
Philip Larkin
From "St. Mark’s Rest"
John Ruskin
"Yes; I write verses now and then"
Walter Savage Landor
From "Used: The Mind-Body Problem"
Kelly Cherry
"As I Sit Writing Here"
Walt Whitman
"Queries to My Seventieth Year"
Walt Whitman
Letter to Malcolm Cowley
Kenneth Burke
"It Is Time"
Laurence Lerner
"Extempore Effusion Upon the Death of James Hogg"
William Wordsworth
From Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage
George Gordon, Lord Byron
"The Old Familiar Faces"
Charles Lamb
Letter to Malcolm Cowley
Kenneth Burke
From "A Toccata of Galuppi’s"
Robert Browning
From "Faithful Wilson"
Thomas Hardy
"The Face in the Mirror"
Robert Graves
"I Look into My Glass"
Thomas Hardy
"Growing Old"
Matthew Arnold
19:32-39: 2 Samuel
From "Girl from Samos"
"O sovereign my Lord! Oldness has come"
Ptah Hotep
"For when thou art angry all our days are gone": From The Book of Common Prayer
From The Diary of Alice James
Alice James
"He who has lived sixty years": Egyptian Papyrus
Letter to W. Morton Fullerton
Henry James
"My Picture Left in Scotland"
Ben Jonson
From Paradise Lost
John Milton
Christina Rossetti
"Old Age"
Buland Al-Haydari
"What, then, is life if love the golden is gone?"
Chorus, from Herakles
From Oedipus at Colonus
Daniel Hoffman

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