Wednesday, March 14, 2012

An essay is, an essay is not...


The essay is science, minus the explicit proof. José Ortega y Gasset

The essay is a conceptually constructed work of art; it is a logical structure, but one where logic begins to sing. Enrique Anderson Imbert

The function of the essayist...would seem to be to reconcile poetry and philosophy, to offer a strange bridge between the world of images and that of concepts.... Mariano Picón-Salas

The most richly satisfying essays are those which make the best not of one, not of two, but of all the three worlds in which it is possible for the essay to exist.... Aldous Huxley

A jesting Pilate who asks questions but doesn't wait for answers is the archetypal personification of the essay, of essay-writing and essayists.... But it is never glimpsed where that wild meadow has been banned from human consciousness even as a memory or possibility, where walls have become absolute and walking itself has become a round of compulsion and routine. Michael Hamburger

The essayist, really, is an arbitrary wanderer over a theme that remains hidden. Guillermo Díaz-Plaja

...the essay is, after all, a sort of secular sermon, including skepticism, and written by the snake. William Gass

In the essay according to Montaigne, the practice of internal reflection is inseparable from the inspection of exterior reality. Jean Starboinski

The essay is not a weighing, an evaluation of ideas; it is a swarm of ideas-words. André

An essay is not a report of research conducted in a laboratory; it is the laboratory itself.... Gabriel Zaid

The essay as jeremiad. The essay as exercise in nostalgia. The essay as an exhibition of a temperament. Etc. Susan Sontag

It's not that the essay in unsusceptible to genre "definition"; it's rather that the nature of the essay asks one to resist categories, starting with itself. Rachel Blau Duplessis


Lively conversation via Essayists on the Essay, eds. Carl H. Klaus and Ned Stuckey-French

"The Human Condition" via Berlin Black and White

1 comment:

Richard Gilbert said...

Nice roundup. The essay has fewer limits than most of those who read or write them realize.