In this new collection, Eugene Goodheart, scholar of English literature, essayist, and public intellectual, reveals himself in a way that will interest readers already familiar with his expansive body of work as well as those new to his writing. Rising above the particular, the essays focus on themes of universal importance. The opening essay, "e;Whistling in the Dark,"e; is a meditation on the gravest of subjects: aging and mortality. The chapters that follow are a series of reflections on teaching, retirement, illness, marriage, fatherhood, friendship, regret, indignation, sports, and writing-activities that make up a life. The book wrestles with the question of what constitutes the reality of the self in the present when many writers view the self as an illusion. Each essay alludes to writers of the past and present who have addressed the question of what constitutes the self. Looming largest is Montaigne, the inventor of the modern personal essay. This book focuses on universally important subjects, including an individual's place in a community, family, fatherhood, growing older, being Jewish, and friendship. Written in a vividly accessible manner, this book reaches out to a general audience.