Tuesday, February 22, 2011

An Essay on the Essay

This 2002 Poets&Writers essay on the essay form by a Lousiana journalist named Michael Depp isn't particularly exciting, but it's a solid analysis of what the essay is with quotes by some major current essayists.

Here's an excerpt that pretty much nails it:

So what occasions the essay? If a writer has no surefire argument to make, no point to sway the reader toward, why flaunt personal vacillations in print? Why not leave the questions and doubts to the rough draft rather than give them life?

For Richard Rodriguez, the attraction is the essay's public rehearsal of ideas. . . . "For me, the drama of the essay is the way the public life intersects with my personal and private life."


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