The 28 Short Essays Of Elia
Essays of Elia are 28 short essays written by Charles Lamb. It started appearing in The London Magazine in 1820 and were very popular. The essays make easy reading as they are around five pages long. Some of the essays are written around important days of the year like New Year’s Eve and All Fools’ Day. Charles Lamb also known as Elia wrote these essays on small issues with emotion. Some make us laugh while others can make us identify with the times. He spends a lot of time explaining about events that take place in and around London. The people in his essays remind us of childhood. He paints elaborate pictures of accountants, school, marriage, food, and artists.
Besides being nostalgic, Elia is critical is some areas where he talks about theater audiences and more observant when it comes to talking about witchcraft which existed much earlier. The blend of rational thinking with little tidbits is what makes these essays very readable. A contemporary thinker, Elia sits on the outside and tries to find reason about the way of living that existed at the time. The period was 18th century London, so a lot of his observation was based on beliefs and customs. For example, in the first Essay of Elia, “The South-Sea House,” he speaks of how time might not have changed the attitudes of the people who worked there. He relates the intelligence of people working there with the history of the place. He remembers the place from his memory of it 45 years prior to writing the essay.
In “Christ’s Hospital Five And Thirty Years Ago,” the author talks about his time in Christ School. He becomes both the privileged Charles Lamb and the underprivileged Elia. He uses the comparison to talk about the food and small privileges that some could afford while others had to adjust. Though both the aspects of his thought process is indicated in the essay, Elia does not show the same visible context he places in this essay compared with the other essays. He uses the nostalgic approach in some places. In “The South-Sea House” he uses nostalgia when he elaborates on how the accountants would react to the intelligent atmosphere set in the bank. Essays of Elia leave an ardent reader wanting more of it.
The book of essays makes you sit up and think about rational modern thinking, which should pleasantly surprise you considering that the essays were written in the 1800s. There is irony, descriptions of places of importance, and people who do odd jobs like chimney sweeping. The words move around describing places, situations, or people the author wants to describe in a way that leaves a very vivid picture of it. Very little background needs to be known of the events in any of the essays, but the language and style used by the author to explain several relevant behavioral patterns like in “A Bachelor’s Complaint Of the Behavior Of Married People” makes us sit up and take notice. All in all, an essay of Elia makes you want to find a corner and read it without someone disturbing you till you finish.