As many pupils remember since the middle school, an essay is a literary genre of prose writing that has a small volume and free composition. Such paper expresses personal impressions, opinions, and considerations of the author on a particular problem, topic or subject and does not claim to be a comprehensive or decisive interpretation of the theme.
What are its distinctive features? Regarding volume and purpose this paper borders on the one hand, with a scientific article, and on the other – with a philosophical treatise, but it has certain individual characteristics. This style is characterized by figurativeness, the mobility of associations, aphoristic (often antithesis) thinking, intimate frankness and narrative intonation. Such text is sincere and presents author’s personal vision.
We all are familiar with style from school. But, despite the common belief, an essay is not only a common assignment for school, college and university students, but is also a quite popular genre of literature. The writers who focus on short compositions in their work are called essayists. In this article, we will give you a small insight into the history of this style of writing and tell you about the greatest essay writers of all time.
How Did This Genre Appear?
The founder of this writing style is Michel de Montaigne. This author was one of the most influential philosophers during the Renaissance in France, and he was the first who used an essay as a particular genre form in his book “Essais” (1580). And Francis Bacon in his works, published in 1597, 1612, and 1625 was the first who gave a name essays to such short compositions.
In XVIII—XIX centuries this genre was at the peak of its popularity. It was widely used in English and French journalism. From that time, this style of literature was rapidly growing and gaining popularity in different countries all over the globe, and today it had taken its deserved place in the history of literature and modern educational system.
Who Are The Greatest Essay Writers?
There are many authors who used this style of writing in their works. For example, the greatest authors of this genre in XIX century are:
- Thomas Carlyle;
- William Hazlitt;
- Matthew Arnold;
- Oscar Wilde;
- Ralph Waldo Emerson;
- Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche;
- And other.
This genre is still popular in our time. Thus, if we discuss the top essay writers of XX century, we should mention the writers like Bernard Shaw, Herbert Wells, George Orwell, and many other talented people!