If we use the most general definition of an essay being a ”prose composition with a focused subject of discussion”, bloggers are today’s essayists.
Aldous Huxley, who wrote Brave New World, as well as essays on a wide range of topics, said “the essay is a literary device for saying almost everything about almost anything, usually on a certain topic.” That’s about as general a definition you can get. I’d say it fits blog posts, at least ones which are thoughtful and thought-provoking.
Inspired by Ray Bradbury’s 1,000 nights reading assignment, I’m trying to read a short story, an essay and a poem a day.
The day after I decided to try this experiment, I found a set called American Literary Essays and Short Stories at a library book sale. I don’t believe in coincidence… more like our intentions are a prayer and synchronicity is the answer to that prayer.
I was excited about the stack of used books I acquired for ’50 cents an inch’ at the book sale, but was apprehensive that the classical essays might be too pedantic and outdated. Would it feel like a college assignment?
After scanning the titles, I picked an essay called “The figure a poem makes” by Robert Frost. About half way in, Mr. Frost’s poetic voice took over. Here are a few passages I especially liked.
“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader. For me the initial delight is in the surprise of remembering something I didn’t know I knew.
“Like giants we are always hurling experience ahead of us to pave the future with, against the day when we may want to strike a line of purpose across it for somewhere.”
“Scholars and artists thrown together are often annoyed at the puzzle of where they differ. Both work from knowledge; but I suspect they differ most importantly in the way their knowledge is come by. Scholars get theirs with conscientious thoroughness along projected lines of logic; poets theirs cavalierly and as it happens in and out of books. They stick to nothing deliberately, but let what will stick to them like burrs where they walk in the field.”
I think I’m going to love reading these essays. I’m especially looking forward to some suggested in the comments by a reader in my last post. Check ‘em out.
If you liked my post, please Tweet and Share. Thanks!