Essay English Literature History

One way to start is to draw a distinction between articles, which are read primarily for the information they contain, and essays, in which the pleasure of reading takes precedence over the information in the text.Although handy, this loose division points chiefly to kinds of reading rather than to kinds of texts.

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Johnson, for example, called the essay "an irregular, indigested piece, not a regular and orderly performance." True, the writings of several well-known essayists (William Hazlitt and Ralph Waldo Emerson, for instance, after the fashion of Montaigne) can be recognized by the casual nature of their explorations -- or "ramblings." But that's not to say that anything goes.

Each of these essayists follows certain organizing principles of his own.

It is not sufficient simply to identify a theme in your thesis.

For instance, saying that a text deals with the theme of love or death or betrayal is not enough.

Oddly enough, critics haven't paid much attention to the principles of design actually employed by successful essayists.

These principles are rarely formal patterns of organization, that is, the "modes of exposition" found in many composition textbooks.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.With these thoughts in mind, the essay might be defined as a short work of nonfiction, often artfully disordered and highly polished, in which an authorial voice invites an implied reader to accept as authentic a certain textual mode of experience.Like all university essays, the English paper requires critical thought and strong argumentation, but its focus on language and close textual analysis makes it unique.Informal can describe either the shape or the tone of the work -- or both.Personal refers to the stance of the essayist, conversational to the language of the piece, and expository to its content and aim.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.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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