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Chapter III: Nonfiction
Essay as a form of Literature
essays -piece of writing, designed to report something, or explain something, or make a case for something. quickly -directly they are likely to be systematically organized, factually, detailed, closely reasoned, and plainly written. But usefulness can also become a pretext for beauty.
Essay as a form of Literature
Essayists, George Orwell to make political writing into an art. could not do the work of writing even a long magazine article, if it were not also an esthetic experience. to push the world in a certain direction. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story. Shooting an Elephant an essay that has not only a political point to make but also a good story to tell.
Everything in an essay must be subdued to the end. the desire which impels us when we take it from the shelf is simply to receive pleasure. Virginia Woolf The principle which controls it is simply that it should give us pleasure.Essay as a form of Literature They have a point to make every essayist does Not directly persuading but lead us to contemplation or even to idle imagination. .
with its last. . The essay must lap us about and draw its curtain across the world. and we should only wake refreshed. In the interval we may pass through the most various experiences of amusement with Lamb or plunge to the depths of wisdom with Bacon.Essay as a form of Literature it temporarily remove us from the world of everyday affairs by immersing us in the world of the imagination: It should lay us under a spell with its first word. but we must never be roused.
a term he derived from the French verb essayer to try. of trying things out in writing. in a sense.all for nonfictional prose works of limited length.Essays may be long or short. a mean of exploring himself and his idea about human experience. . Misleading . and his essay were. The term essay has since come to be used as a catch.Essay as a form of Literature the sixteen-century French writer Montaigne. They may serve any purpose and take any form that an essayist wants to try out. factual or fictional. practical or playful. essais . a means of thinking on paper.
or dramatic. . or poetic in form a combination of the forms. not the straightforward persuasion it might also be narrative.Essay as a form of Literature its essential quality is persuasion. however. and the longer it is. the more likely it will be to combine the various form in rich and complex ways.
Essay as a form of Literature basically persuade us of something by means of an appeal and argument that the author addresses directly to us.the form of history.overheard by the reader. a story teller. reports directly on persons and events . A dramatic essay takes the form of a dialogue between two or more characters and the author .the author becomes a narrator.a director An essay is poetic to the extent that its author or speaker appears to be talking to himself rather than to others. . narrative .
while others are narrative. is at the heart of all essays. nor as it is. dramatic.Essay as a form of Literature all essays have persuasive purpose views ways of looking at a thing rather than the thing itself. Persuasion. not as anyone else sees it. their angle of vision. only as they see it. directly or indirect Some essays are argumentative. . then. or poetic.
Examine its arguments. formulate your response to the view presented and evaluate the presentation.Essay as a form of Literature persuasive argumentative read it a second time. and (b) the extent of their relevance to the point being made. . Then examine its arrangement to see how the author has structured his persuasion. for (a) their accuracy in themselves. more analytically than the first time. Consider any assumptions Then consider the personality of the essayist Finally.
ask yourself if the essay convincing both as narrative and persuasion.Essay as a form of Literature narrative. and commentary work in each part passages of special thematic import in which the author steps back from the story to comment on its significance. Tyr to divide the story into its meaningful parts and consider the way description. pay attention to its narrative elements in your second reading. to offer an interpretation of the story. . dialogue. Consider the persuasive force in supporting the ideas the consider the implied personality of the essayist Finally.
how one detail generates.Essay as a form of Literature meditative pondering. should you begin to ask questions about the persuasive dimension of the essay. The sort of examination that is appropriate for poetry is appropriate for the meditative essay as well. the process that leads the author from one detail of idea to the next. another. and explain. you re-reading should be especially close and careful in their attention to the associative play of mind with words images. or suggests. Pay special attention to tone and imagery. Only after you have made an investigation of this kind. and ideas. . if you can.
Finally. determine evidence Be alert for any words o scene-setting-a way of inserting some narrative commentary into a dialogue. . you second reading should concentrate on its dramatic elements character. The scene-setter .Essay as a form of Literature dialogue form. determine the relation between the dramatic form and the persuasive purpose of the essay. setting. investigate the details that have led you to that view. consider whether any one character seems to speak with the author s authority behind him. and plot.the author s voice. look for some romantic movement toward a climax.
and fiction. When you read poetry. flexibility. drama.Essay as a form of Literature Any essay may in fact be a combination of the basic forms Remember that reading an essay or any other work of literature. . The ability to analyze the essay with sense and sensibility will stand you in good stead in dealing with every form of literature. like carrying on a human relationship: require attentiveness. and responsiveness. be alert for the essay-like dimension of these literary forms.
By the time he was twenty. Missouri. raised in the Mississippi River town of Hannibal life and lore of the river. he had done journeyman printing and written humorous sketches for the newspaper as far east as New York. Life on the Mississippi (1883) and The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn (1884). who wrote under the pen name of Mark Twain born in Florida. by the age of twelve he had quit school and taken up typesetting for the local newspaper. .Mark Twain (1835 1910) Samuel Langhorne Clemens.
lecturer. a serio-comic journalist. and novelist. a riverboat pilot and learning the language of the river that provided him with his pen name. IN California. famous almost overnight. and irrational belief can be found in virtually everything he wrote.Mark Twain (1835 1910) by his early twenties drawn back to the Mississippi. whose contempt for authority. then in San Francisco. pride. as a journalist. first in the mining towns o Nevada. After four years on the river. folly. The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras Country (1865). he served in the Civil War travelled west. .
the law of God. stripped of this uniform. was enlisted by compulsion. and (2) deserted in the face of the enemy on the eve of battle. which denies courage to the rabbit. and hanged.In the Animals Court THE RABBIT. marched to the scaffold. bearing a placard marked Coward. having declined to volunteer. Verdict of the Court. To be disgraced in the presence of the army. . he answer. (1) that the Rabbit.
by his splendid courage and matchless strength and endurance. save the battle. To be given a dukedom. his statue to be set up. his name to be writ in letter of gold at the top of the roll in the Temple of Fame.In the Animals Court THE LION. The testimony showed that the lion. Verdict of the Court. .
In the Animals Court THE FOX. Being asked for his defence. Thou shalt not steal. . The testimony showed that he had broken the divine law. Imprisonment for life. he pleaded that he had been obliged to obey the divine law. The Fox shall steal. Verdict of the court.
Verdict of the Court. The evidence showed that he had spent many days and nights unwatched. in the paddock with the poultry. Let his name be honored.In the Animals Court THE HORSE. . yet had triumphed over the temptation. let his deed be praised throughout the land by public proclamation.
. he pleased the law of his nature. In arrest of judgment.In the Animals Court THE WOLF. Death. The evidence showed that he had transgressed the law Thou shalt not kill. Verdict of the Court.
.In the Animals Court THE SHEEP. Verdict of the Court. yet had not yielded. The evidence showed that he had had manifold temptations to commit murder and massacre. Let his virtue be remembered forever.
I did not contrive myself. moved when you should not have moved. The Court. To a machine. poorly contrived and badly constructed. that is to a machine.In the Animals Court THE MACHINE. You plea is sufficient. I am a machine. You are discharged. I did not construct myself. I am slave to the law of my make The Court. Answer. Answer. .
the Bloomsbury Group. an eminent critic.Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) Born in London to a highly cultured family. but with her brother and sister she had also gathered together a highly talented group of critic and writers. and philosopher. Leslie Stephen. By her early twenties. editor. . but was educated by being immersed in the library and learning of her father. she not only had begun writing book reviews for the Times Literary Supplement. historian. did not attend school.
suicide by drowning. Mrs. as clearly as possible. she was experiencing with narrative techniques major innovative novels. to write in the fewest possible words. focus on the inner life of her characters. Dalloway (1925). and The Waves (1931). To the Lighthouse (1927). exactly what one meant.Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) married Leonard Woolf in 1912. .
The Death of the Moth Moths that fly by day are not properly to be called moths They are hybrid creatures. benignant. neither gay like butterflies nor sombre like their own species . mild. mid September. It was a pleasant morning. yet with a keener breath than that of the summer months .
neither gay like butterflies nor sombre like their own species .The Death of the Moth Moths that fly by day are not properly to be called moths They are hybrid creatures. mid September. mild. It was a pleasant morning. yet with a keener breath than that of the summer months . benignant.
because he was so small. after waiting there a second. What remained for him but to fly to a third corner and then to a fourth? Yet. and so simple a form of the energy that was rolling in at the open window and driving its way through so many narrow and intricate corridors in my own brain and in those of other human beings. and.The Death of the Moth He flew vigorously to one corner of his compartment. flew across to the other. there was something marvellous as well as pathetic about him .
Being intent on other matters I watched these futile attempts for a time without thinking.. unconsciously waiting for him to resume his flight. the thought of all that life might have been had he been born in any other shape caused one to view his simple activities with a kind of pity. . that has stopped momentarily. as one waits for a machine.The Death of the Moth Again. to start again without considering the reason of its failure.
I laid the pencil down again. But. . meaning to help him to right himself. he could no longer raise himself. . his legs struggled vainly.The Death of the Moth It flashed upon me that he was in difficulties. as I stretched out a pencil. it came over me that the failure and awkwardness were the approach of death.
impersonal. Somehow it was opposed to the little hay-coloured moth. have submerged an entire city. not merely a city. It was useless to try to do anything. not attending to anything in particular. nothing.The Death of the Moth Yet the power was there all the same. One could only watch the extraordinary efforts made by those tiny legs against an oncoming doom which could. but masses of human beings. had it chosen. . I knew. had any chance against death. massed outside indifferent.
It was superb this last protest.The Death of the Moth Nevertheless after a pause of exhaustion the legs fluttered again. moved one strangely. One s sympathies. to retain what no one else valued or desired to keep. Also. of course. . were all on the side of life. this gigantic effort on the part of an insignificant little moth. when there was nobody to care or to know. against a power of such magnitude. and so frantic that he succeeded at last in righting himself.
. As I looked at the dead moth. The struggle was over. and instantly grew stiff. The insignificant little creature now knew death.The Death of the Moth The body relaxed. this minute wayside triumph of so great a force over so mean an antagonist filled me with wonder .
O yes.The Death of the Moth Just as life had been strange a few minutes before. death is stronger than I am. he seemed to say. . . The moth having righted himself now lay most decently and uncomplainingly composed. so death was now as strange.