Reproducing Lamb's original edition for the first time since its publication in 1823, this facsimile begins with The South-Sea House and ends with On the Acting of Munden from the first series of twenty-eight essays, which range in tone from slyly humorous to compassionately wise; it also includes By a Friend of the Late Elia, which Lamb wrote in 1823 and later used as a preface to the 1833 edition. Psychologically and verbally brilliant, teeming with fascinating portraits, lively stories, and a dazzling prose style, Lamb's inspired essays are the work of an unparalleled genius whose profound influence has been acknowledged by essayists as different as E. B. White and Virginia Woolf.
Ironically, these aspects are what the reading public loved, and what is widely acclaimed now by literary critics. East of Eden became an instant bestseller in November 1952, a month after it was released, and is now considered one of Steinbeck's finest achievements. About 50,000 copies of the novel are sold each year, yet its popularity skyrocketed once again in 2003 after being named Oprah's Book Club pick. It gained the second spot on the best-seller list and remains exceedingly popular with the general reading public.