The Ancient Art of the Book Blurb


Book blurbs—and the controversies surrounding them—go back as far as Thomas More, who gathered a bouquet of them for Utopia.

Ben Jonson blurbed Shakespeare. Ralph Waldo Emerson blurbed Walt Whitman. But do they really mean anything anymore?

Click through to find out—and read historical blurbs and blurb satires like this one:

Say! Ain’t this book a 90-H.P., six-cylinder Seller? If WE do say it as shouldn’t, WE consider that this man Burgess has got Henry James locked into the coal-bin, telephone for “Information.”

Lauren O'Neal is an MFA student at San Francisco State University. Her writing has appeared in publications like Slate, The New Inquiry, and The Hairpin. You can follow her on Twitter at @laureneoneal. More from this author →