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Inspired in particular by the works of Plutarch, a translation of whose Œuvres Morales (Moral works) into French had just been published by Jacques Amyot, Montaigne began to compose his essays in 1572; the first edition, entitled Essais, was published in two volumes in 1580.
The concept of an "essay" has been extended to other media beyond writing.
A film essay is a movie that often incorporates documentary filmmaking styles and focuses more on the evolution of a theme or idea.
Formal essays are characterized by "serious purpose, dignity, logical organization, length," whereas the informal essay is characterized by "the personal element (self-revelation, individual tastes and experiences, confidential manner), humor, graceful style, rambling structure, unconventionality or novelty of theme," etc.
Essays are commonly used as literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author.
Francis Bacon's essays, published in book form in 1597, 1612, and 1625, were the first works in English that described themselves as essays.
Ben Jonson first used the word essayist in English in 1609, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.Almost all modern essays are written in prose, but works in verse have been dubbed essays (e.g., Alexander Pope's An Essay on Criticism and An Essay on Man).While brevity usually defines an essay, voluminous works like John Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding and Thomas Malthus's An Essay on the Principle of Population are counterexamples.English essayists included Robert Burton (1577–1641) and Sir Thomas Browne (1605–1682).In France, Michel de Montaigne's three volume Essais in the mid 1500s contain over 100 examples widely regarded as the predecessor of the modern essay.In Italy, Baldassare Castiglione wrote about courtly manners in his essay Il Cortigiano.In the 17th century, the Jesuit Baltasar Gracián wrote about the theme of wisdom.The early 19th century, in particular, saw a proliferation of great essayists in English – William Hazlitt, Charles Lamb, Leigh Hunt and Thomas de Quincey all penned numerous essays on diverse subjects. Virginia Woolf, Edmund Wilson, and Charles du Bos wrote literary criticism essays.In the 20th century, a number of essayists tried to explain the new movements in art and culture by using essays (e.g., T. As with the novel, essays existed in Japan several centuries before they developed in Europe with a genre of essays known as zuihitsu — loosely connected essays and fragmented ideas.This section describes the different forms and styles of essay writing.These forms and styles are used by an array of authors, including university students and professional essayists.