“Robert Atwan’s Art of the Foreword”

Essay Daily | 2015

“Keep company with Atwan for a little longer over these years, and we increasingly appreciate him as a thinker who has worked hard to develop a high tolerance for his own uncertainty, especially about essays; at the same time, he holds himself accountable for trying to articulate his own ideas about essays as they deepen, become obsolete, or get replaced by better ones. At key moments—the most fruitful in these forewords—he highlights challenges we face as we try to read in ways that change us, write essays that cannot be graded by a machine, have ideas of our own, tell truths in nonfiction, and name touchstone qualities of essays so that we can learn from one another about them.”