|These Simple Things|
The writers you will recognize, the subject matter of their essays is even more familiar: The Teakettle, Stove, Knife,Coat Hanger, Spoon, Grass, Light Bulb, Glass, Water, Salt, Bread.
Elizabeth Bowen, that English lady, started off by explaining the value of the Teakettle as distinct from the Teapot. With a certain righteous indignation, born of her English upbringing, she points out the difference between boiling the necessary water and the later infusion of the tea. With a little history and her own sophistication she writes a charming essay.
My other favorite among the eleven authors' work is Aldous Huxley's essay on Salt. Beginning with his own very young experiments following the instructions of others on catching birds by putting salt on their tails (complete failure for this small boy in either catching birds or understanding the joke of it all), Huxley progressed to the later acquired epigram that "kissing a man without a mustache was like eating an egg without salt'--never abandoning his theme. His erudition takes him to the Bible , Plato and others on the necessity of salt in the human diet. More meaningful to adult life, perhaps, he furthers his thesis by explaining that the word "salary" finds its root in the word "salarium" which describes the allowance for the purchase of salt accorded to Roman soldiers.
Essays may have lost their appeal to a population nurtured on short stories and comics, but they are wonderful sources of humor, instruction and leisurely charm.