What is essay?

  • (noun): An analytic or interpretive literary composition.
    See also — Additional definitions below


An essay is a piece of writing which is often written from an author's personal point of view. Essays can consist of a number of elements, including: literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author. The definition of an essay is vague, overlapping with those of an article and a short story. Almost all modern essays are written in prose, but works in verse have been dubbed essays (e.g. Alexander Pope's An Essay on Criticism and An Essay on Man). While brevity usually defines an essay, voluminous works like John Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding and Thomas Malthus's An Essay on the Principle of Population are counterexamples.

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Some articles on essay:

The Battle Of Cowpens (small Volume)
... It is an essay discussing the Battle of Cowpens during the American Revolution, which Roberts had originally intended to turn into a novel but published as an essay to popularize his view of the battle ... Instead, Roberts accepted a commission from Collier's to write an essay about the battle ... however, was displeased with the abridged version of the essay that was published and arranged to have the unedited version published, albeit posthumously ...
Adrienne Kennedy - Works - Other Works
... Birthday by Suzanne Alexander" (essay), 1992 "Secret Paragraphs about My Brother" (essay), 1996 "A Letter to Flowers" (essay), 1998 "Sisters Etta and Ella (excerpt ...
Conjugal Lewdness
... The full original title of this 1727 essay by Daniel Defoe was "Conjugal Lewdness or, Matrimonial Whoredom", though he was later asked to rename it for the sake of propriety ... The essay dealt primarily with contraception, comparing it directly with infanticide ... In the essay, he further referred to contraception as "the diabolical practice of attempting to prevent childbearing by physical preparations." ...
Essay, Orne
... Essay is a commune in the Orne department in north-western France ... The town is mainly known nowadays for its motorsports tracks* ...
Labor History (journal) - Awards
... Honors are given to the best essay on an American topic, best essay on a non-American or comparative topic, best essay written by a scholar within five years ...

More definitions of "essay":

  • (noun): A tentative attempt.

Famous quotes containing the word essay:

    ‘Twas something we knew all about to begin with
    And needn’t have fared into space like his master
    To find ‘twas the effort, the essay of love.
    Robert Frost (1874–1963)

    A good essay must have this permanent quality about it; it must draw its curtain round us, but it must be a curtain that shuts us in, not out.
    Virginia Woolf (1882–1941)

    Essay writing is perhaps ... the easiest for the author and requires little more than what is called a fluency of words and a vivacity of expression to avoid dullness; but without ... a real foundation of matter ... an essay writer is very apt, like Dogberry in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, to think that if he had the tediousness of a king, he would bestow it all upon his readers.
    Sarah Fielding (1710–1768)