In literature, an essay is a work of reflection on the most diverse subjects and exposed in a personal, even subjective, way by the author. Unlike the study, the essay can be controversial or partisan. It is a literary text that lends itself well to philosophical reflection, but also to other fields: historical essays, scientific essays, political essays, and so on. The author of an essay is called “essayist”. The term “essay” is derived from the Latin exagium, “judge, examine, weigh”.
It was created in the sixteenth century, and made famous by Michel de Montaigne; in his essays, he tackles many subjects of study from a strictly personal point of view. It has often been pointed out that he attaches such importance to this angle of approach that he describes in detail his own sensations, perceptions, and sometimes his illnesses. But this way of working allows him to found a fruitful philosophical reflection. He launched this genre that inspired the English philosopher and politician Francis Bacon his Essays of Morality and Politics (1597).
The essay is a speech assumed by the author. He gives himself voice while passing by the way of the text.
To give oneself a voice: it is a question of saying things and of creating one’s own meaning and proposing it to the reader (to situate oneself).
A voice given to the other: the essay is a writing at a time close to the ego and altruism. The way of approaching the subject can be realistic, idealistic or even utopian (desire and means of communication).
The voice of the text: the text will reveal a meaning, like most literary writings (the presence of the implicit is a characteristic of literary language), for example:
- write to inform and express one’s opinion;
- to write to open, to know the world;
- write to comment and explain the real;
- write to clarify one’s place in the world and to give one’s vision of the world;
- an experience, a birth, in philosophy: a phenomenology (consciousness to the individual world that aims to join a wider knowledge);
- a writing that aims for knowledge: to know oneself in and with the world, without being a scientific or popularization treatise. To discover oneself by specifying one’s thought, which even that, in the text, will generate a form of wandering, a center and digressions (personal ideological text).
- Some essays express an engagement (political, social, humanistic, existential, vital);
- look at the real, choice of subject, choice of language and form of the essay;
- to question oneself;
- to explore concrete, historical, social, universal, personal reality;
- freedom of expression and subject (from the banal to the crucial, from the bagatelle to the essential);
- not exhaustive = a quest, a proposal, more than an exhaustive search;
- a point of view, seduction;
- perception that even suggests in its desire to say or to make known to the other (notion of message).
In the text
The test allows a great variety in the expression; from monologue to advanced argumentation, evocation, information, criticism, description, portraiture, narration, anecdote, maxim, thought, example or illustrations, simulated dialogue, etc.
- sensitive and intellectual perceptions
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