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For many book Lovers, there is no more pleasing start to a book than a well-chosen epigraph. These intriguing quotations, sayings, and snippets of songs and poems do more than set the tone for the experience ahead: the epigraph informs us about the author’s sensibility. Are we in the hands of a literalist or a wit? A cynic or a romantic? A writer of great ambition or a miniaturist? The epigraph hints at hidden stories and frequently comes with one of its own.

The Art of the Epigraph collects more than 250 examples from across five hundred years of literature and offers insights into their meaning and purpose, including what induces so many writers to cede the very first words a reader will encounter in their book to another writer. With memorable quotations ranging from Dr. Johnson to Dr. Seuss, Herodotus to Hemingway, Jane Austen to Karl Marx, and A. A. Milne to Marcel Proust, here is a book that allows us a glimpse of the great writer as devoted reader. This lively and distinctive literary companion traces not only the art of the epigraph but the history of the book.

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