Starting with The World Within the Word, in 1978, Gass returned to publishing collected essays (often in revised states) that skillfully examine literature, culture, the lives and works of writers, and the nature and use of language, among other topics. 

Numerous drafts of essays that went into The World Within the Word are included in the William H. Gass Papers, as well as a setting copy of the entire book created by the publisher, Alfred A. Knopf.