On the Difficulty of Introducing a Work of this Kind

Karshan, Thomas and Murphy, Kathryn (2020) On the Difficulty of Introducing a Work of this Kind. In: On Essays. Oxford University Press, 1–CI.P64. ISBN 9780198707868

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The 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
Uncontrolled Keywords: adorno,commonplacing,definitions of the essay,essay,leigh hunt,method,miscellaneity,montaigne,origins of the essay,the novel,arts and humanities(all) ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1200
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
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 12 Jul 2023 12:30
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2024 01:22
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/92588
DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198707868.003.0001

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