• Essayism

Dillon, Brian, 2017, Book, Essayism Fitzcarraldo Editions, London. ISBN 978-1-910695-41-8

Abstract or Description:

The essay is a venerable form that may well be the genre of the future. It has its origins in a mode of self-examination
and even self-obsession – ‘it is many years now that I have had only myself as object of my thoughts’, writes Montaigne
in his essay ‘Of Practice’ – but it is just as accurately defined by its vagrant and curious scope, its capacity to suborn
any and every object to its elegant remit. It may not in fact be ‘well made’ at all, but a thing of fragments and unfinished aperçus, or an omnium-gatherum like Robert Burton’s capacious but recognizably essayistic Anatomy of Melancholy. The essay may not even be written, but instead a photo essay, film essay, radio essay or some hybrid of these and the literary archetype. It may belong to a self-conscious genre and have been written by an essayist who self-declares as such; or it might be conjured from a milieu where the labels ‘essay’ and ‘essayist’ would make no sense at all. The essay, in short, is
a varied and various artefact. Its occasion might be scholarly – there are academic essays, though they tend to be essays
to the extent that they wish to stop being academic – or it may be journalistic, institutional or ‘creative’. The essay can be tethered to a specific (perhaps polemical) context or written with an ambition to timeless or universal import. Whatever its motivation or avowed theme, the essay possesses a style and a voice. Generic, structural and contextual definitions will vary, but the essay is at least recognizable by its having a certain texture – the essay alters or interferes to some degree with the language of non-fiction. Essayism is a personal, critical and polemical book about the genre, its history and its contemporary possibilities, itself an example of what it describes: an essay that is curious and digressive and at the same time held together by a personal voice and a polemical point.

Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W800 Imaginative Writing > W830 Prose Writing
School or Centre: School of Arts & Humanities
Funders: Arts Council
Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2016 17:53
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2020 14:18
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/2453
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