Essay English Literature History

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.A basic aspect of the relationship between a writer (or a writer's persona) and a reader (the implied audience) is the presumption that what the essayist says is literally true.

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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.

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.

In the broadest sense, the term "essay" can refer to just about any short piece of nonfiction -- an editorial, feature story, critical study, even an excerpt from a book.

However, literary definitions of a genre are usually a bit fussier.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.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.Here are some tips that you’ll want to keep in mind when writing about literature. The main purpose of an English paper is to advance an argument.As a general rule, mention only plot details that are relevant to your argument.Under the terms of this contract, the essayist presents experience as it actually occurred -- as it occurred, that is, in the version by the essayist.The narrator of an essay, the editor George Dillon says, "attempts to convince the reader that its model of experience of the world is valid." In other words, the reader of an essay is called on to join in the making of meaning.


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