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Every essay has something original in its approach, paradoxical in the root sense of going at least slightly against the grain of popular opinion, showing the way a single person thinks and a single person writes.One of the founding fictions of the form, in Montaigne’s , is that the essayist simply can’t write in any other way: his form is necessarily as idiosyncratic as his mind and his body, and to write a different kind of book would be not only dishonest to himself and to the reader but also on some level impossible.Featuring American essayists and others, this list has it all.
It has much more to do, at least at first glance, with the writer; the work it may do on the reader is secondary to the intellectual or emotional itch it scratches for the essayist.
In its independence, it’s something closer to a poem—or, to use a metaphor Dillon hints at, a photograph.
The motley histories of Herodotus, the philosophical life writing of Plutarch, the essayistic letters of Cicero and Seneca, the lyrical prose of Apuleius, the encylopedism of Pliny the Elder, and the vivid letters of Pliny the Younger—all of these, and more, are the roots of the essay’s family tree.
Montaigne, its trunk, does get a few good pages: Dillon homes in on “Of Practice,” the story of Montaigne’s nearly fatal fall from a horse, which is in itself a kind of allegory of how the writer’s “‘I’ travels out from the seat of consciousness and dissipates itself at the extremities” of thought and feeling.
The people on this list are from different countries, but what they all have in common is that they're all renowned essayists.
The list you're viewing is made up of people like Gore Vidal and Ralph Waldo Emerson.This attitude is “essayism,” a word Robert Musil coined in The young man approaches all he encounters “approximately in the way that an essay, in the sequence of its paragraphs, takes a thing from many sides without comprehending it wholly—for a thing wholly comprehended instantly loses its bulk and melts down into a concept.” Sensitivity, tenderness, and a measure of slyness characterize Dillon’s opening essay, “On Essays and Essayists,” in which he writes, in one of the most astute observations on the form, that essayists “perform a combination of exactitude and evasion that seems to me to define what writing ought to be.” Summing up his own method and, in a way, itself, he identifies the essay as “a form that would instruct, seduce and mystify in equal measure.” An essay tells the truth, but it tells it “slantwise,” with a difference—sometimes subtle, sometimes extreme.Diversity is the essay’s reason for being, and its principal theme.It should be read by all critics examining nonfiction writing.That said, a book like this is neither scholarly nor comprehensive, and doesn’t set out to be.Recounting his abysmal performance in a required logic course at university, Dillon admits that, like Musil’s protagonist, “I was and remain quite incapable of mounting in writing a reasoned and coherent argument, never mind describing to myself, as the study of logic required, the parts and processes, more or less persuasive, of that argument.” The essay, according to Dillon, isn’t simply a means to an end, even though, without an end (usually stated in terse titles—“Of Practice,” “On Consolation”—that gesture toward the Greco-Roman precursors of the form), an essay has no motion.Unlike an instruction manual or a polemic or a speech, the essay isn’t merely a technology for informing or persuading an audience.Like Montaigne, Dillon writes essays because he has to.It’s somehow in his literary DNA: “I will have to write, can only write, in fits and starts,” he admits.If you want to answer the questions, "Who are the most famous essayists ever? Dostoyevsky's literary works explore human ..Rachel Louise Carson was an American marine biologist and conservationist whose book Silent Spring and other writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement.Carson began ..Samuel Johnson, often referred to as Dr Johnson, was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and ..Victor Marie Hugo was a French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic movement.