Essay English Literature History

So here are some other ways that the essay might be defined.Standard definitions often stress the loose structure or apparent shapelessness of the essay.

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Consider this suspiciously neat dividing line drawn by Michele Richman: Post-Montaigne, the essay split into two distinct modalities: One remained informal, personal, intimate, relaxed, conversational and often humorous; the other, dogmatic, impersonal, systematic and expository.

The terms used here to qualify the term "essay" are convenient as a kind of critical shorthand, but they're imprecise at best and potentially contradictory.

When the writings of particular essayists are studied carefully, Richman's "distinct modalities" grow increasingly vague.

Many of the terms used to characterize the essay -- personal, familiar, intimate, subjective, friendly, conversational -- represent efforts to identify the genre's most powerful organizing force: the rhetorical voice or projected character (or persona) of the essayist.

Since Montaigne adopted the term "essay" in the 16th century to describe his "attempts" at self-portrayal in prose, this slippery form has resisted any sort of precise, universal definition.

But that won't an attempt to define the term in this brief article.

You may occasionally need to contribute a small amount of additional information about the storyline to make your analysis coherent, but keep the summary to a minimum, and leave plenty of space for your own ideas.

You can usually assume that your reader knows the narrative well. A good thesis is a statement of roughly one to three sentences that says something intelligent about a literary work.

The terms "voice" and "persona" are often used interchangeably to suggest the rhetorical nature of the essayist himself on the page. White confirms in his preface to "The Essays," "be any sort of person, according to his mood or his subject matter." In "What I Think, What I Am," essayist Edward Hoagland points out that "the artful ' I' of an essay can be as chameleon as any narrator in fiction." Similar considerations of voice and persona lead Carl H.

At times an author may consciously strike a pose or play a role. Klaus to conclude that the essay is "profoundly fictive": It seems to convey the sense of human presence that is indisputably related to its author's deepest sense of self, but that is also a complex illusion of that self -- an enactment of it as if it were both in the process of thought and in the process of sharing the outcome of that thought with others.


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