On the Difficulty of Introducing a Work of this Kind

Murphy, Kathryn and Karshan, Thomas (2020) On the Difficulty of Introducing a Work of this Kind. In: On Essays. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198707868

Full text not available from this repository. (Request a copy)


This introduction addresses problems in the history of the essay, and criticism and scholarship on it. Although the essay’s origin is easy to date – Montaigne’s Essais (1580) was the first book of that title – it is notoriously difficult to define; and there is remarkably little scholarship and criticism on it. This introduction asks why, offering a prehistory in Plutarch, Seneca, miscellaneous writing, and commonplacing; examining the metaphorical range of the term ‘essay’, and various other names for the form; exploring the transformation of Montaigne’s legacy in England; surveying criticism on the essay; and exploring the contradictions in its use in pedagogy. Rather than attempting a definition, the introduction explores how the essay resists one, exposing a sequence of contradictions which anticipate the subsequent chapters: that the essay can be institutional or amateurish; methodical or anti-methodical; artistic or scientific; detached or polemical; intimate or formal; sociable or isolated; journalistic or philosophical; poetic or novelistic.

Item Type: Book Section
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Modern and Contemporary Writing Research Group
Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Creative-Critical Research Group
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2019 11:31
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2024 01:21
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/72985
DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198707868.003.0014

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item