The Afterlife : From one of the best-loved contemporary novelists, previously uncollected essays on books, writers, places, and the author's own life and works. In this generous, posthumous collection of her literary essays, Penelope Fitzgerald explores what John Milton called the "life beyond life" of writers - their afterlife in the hearts and minds of readers and in the imaginations of their critics and biographers. Here are Fitzgerald's brilliant introductions to Jane Austen's Emma and George Eliot's Middlemarch. Here are a marvelously quick-witted literary journalist's reviews of her fellow fiction writers (Brookner, Ishiguro, Amy Tan) and fellow biographers (Holroyd, Karl, Holmes). Here, especially, are extended explorations of "minor" writers - the authors of modest, overlooked, but fully achieved imaginative works - the celebration of which reveals so much about Penelope Fitzgerald's own literary sensibility: the lyric poet Charlotte Mew, the ghost-story writer M. R. James, and the cartoonists and humorists of Punch. Rounded out by travel pieces, autobiography, and essays on the craft of fiction, The Afterlife is one of the most engaging books about books since Virginia Woolf's The Common Reader.