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The resulting essays touch upon a wide range of compelling subjects from the deliciously humorous “Dissertation upon Roast Pig” to the poignantly reflective “New Year's Eve.” Yet collectively they also comprise a fascinating personal memoir, veiled under the pseudonymous disguise of Elia.Now back in print with a new foreword by the distinguished personal essayist Phillip Lopate and with useful annotations, Essays of Elia will provide a delicious stylistic treat for all readers.At times, he was in the Bond Street at 11 in the morning. Nor did he experience the typical mid-week feeling on Wednesday. Now all days of the week appeared equal with no torment, no anxiety and no worries.
Yet he had to submit to the oppressive rigour of his office just as a jungle animal submits to its life in a cage till it becomes subdued and emasculated.
Eagerly did he await the Sunday for a respite from his colourless monotonous work. It gave him respite from the office, but the day was insufferably lifeless. There was not a trace of the hustle and bustle, the colour and fun, the glitter and cheer of London’s streets.
‘The Superannuated Man’ is an account of Lamb’s lament of his life’s travails from his school days to the job in Counting House in Mincing-lane in London.
He took up the job at fourteen and languished there for ‘six and thirty’ years leading up to his retirement.
Slowly and steadily, he got used to his new life with no job, no rigid routine, no fear, and no worries. When he felt he had too much time to spare, long walks, one of his favorite pastimes provided him the escape from boredom.
When the speaker reminisced about the fifty years of past life gone by, he realized he had devoted a lion’s share of his time for the service of others. Thus, if he managed to live ten more years, that would be equivalent to thirty years of his past life. The memory of his bosses and the colleagues at the Counting House faded from his mind quite fast.The care-free, fun-filled school days were gone forever.At his desk in the firm, his life was mired by boredom and tediousness.He hated the factories and the offices that made life so insufferable with monotonous work.Charles Lamb, one of the most engaging personal essayists of all time, began publishing his unforgettable, entertaining Elia essays in the London Magazine in 1820; they were so immediately popular that a book-length collection was published in 1823.He felt he was making the best of the ample leisure time at his disposal.The time was being well spent with no sense of boredom or guilt or laziness.He thought about Fish-street Hill, Fenchurch-street, and the Stones of old Mincing-lane, which he had visited umpteen times in the thirty six years of his service. At times, it appeared life had become so uneventful. He could tease him to join a pleasure visit to Winsor in the morning.Deep in his heart, he felt as if time was flying past as he visited the Elgin Marbles. He could even indulge in some social welfare work for the poor.The book shops, the restaurants and the shops bursting with their wares were all shut.Thus, the Sundays, too, failed to lift his spirits.