Introduction: reading and writing essays

Plutarch
•”Parallel lives” influenced biography
•”Moralia” essays
• 46-120 from Greece

Seneca
• roman writer, orator, philosopher, dramatist
•common topics
•asthma, noise

Sei Shonagon
•Japanese court lady
•wrote “pillow books”
•wrote in the 10th century

Yoshida Kenko
•poet and Buddhist monk
•fragmented essays
•compared to brush strokes of zen painting

Michel de Montaigne
•French essayist
•father of the modern essay (I)
•named the genre “Essais” meaning attempt (I)
•personal tone, reveal himself
•his mind in the act of thinking

Francis Bacon
•English statesman, scientist, and essayist
•father of the English essay (I)
•essays were short more impersonal
•advice on how to live

Ralph Waldo Emerson
•writing focuses on nature
•essays came from public lectures
•aphoristic style
•”hitch your wagon to a star”
•”Trust thyself”
• “give all to love”

N. Scott momaday
• writes about Native American tradition
•”the way to rainy mt.”

Five classic essays
“A modest proposal”
“Shooting an elephant”
“Death of a moth”
“Once more to the lake”
“Letter from Birmingham”

Annie Dillard
•Wrote “living like weasels”
• wrote fiction, nonfiction, poetry, essays, prose, and criticism
• wrote 2 novels and 1 memoir
• “pilgrim at Tinker Creek” won Pulitzer Prize
• teacher in English at Wesleyan Uni.

Virginia Wolfe
•1882-1942
• made stream of consciousness style of writing popular
• “death of a moth” is her most famous essay (I)
• published essays in “common reader”

Joan Didion
•”Los Vegas weddings”
•wrote about social issues in the 60s

James Thurber
•humorist and cartoonist
•”secret life of Walter Mitty”

Pico Lyer
• “no where man” living in many places and not belonging to any social group

James Baldwin
•became and expatriate and lived in Paris
•wrote about race relations in America and his place in society as a black man

Fredrick doughlas
•wrote about his struggle for literacy as a black slave
•”Learning to Read and write” famous essay about his masters wife teaching him how to read
•1818-1895

Judith Ortiz cofer
•duel culture and linguistic identity

Martin Luther King Jr.
• letter from Birmingham jail
•wrote of racial prejudice

Gretel Ehrlich
•Cowboys and life in the west
•gender roles

Joseph Addison and Richard Steele
•teamed together to publish in periodicals
• “the Tattler” and “the spectator”
•these came out as listen as three times a week

Tom Wolfe
•”the right stuff: astronauts”
• “the electric kook-aid acid test “

Maxine hong Kingston
•wrote about power of place of gender in traditional China
•”no name woman”

Charles Lamb
•the essays of Elia
•he was a lifelong bachelor (i)
•”a bachelors complaint”
•essays were playful, passionate, and highly opinionated

Jonathan Swift
•British author of “Gulliver’s travels” (I)
•”a modest proposal” most famous satire (I)

William Hazlitt
•felt essays should have “gusto” (I)
•stressed importance of feeling in writing
•wrote “pleasures of hating” (I)

Thomas Paine
•wrote political essays
• “The crisis” was his periodical
• famous for “Common Sense”

Benjamin Franklin
•”poor Richards almanac” (I)
•famous for his aphorisms
• fish and visitors stick after three days
• haste makes waste
• a stitch in time saves nine

Samuel Johnson
•English essayist
•famous for his satirical tone (I)
• periodicals “The rambler” (I)

Henry David Thoreau
•wrote about nature
•famous essay was “On the duty of civil disobedience”
•walden was his book of essays
•”if a man cannot keep pace with his companions, perhaps he heads the sound of a different drummer”

George Orwell
• “1984”
• “Animal Farm”
• “shooting and elephant” famous essay (I)
•wrote about imperialism

E.B. White
•wrote books for children:
Charlottes web, Stuart little
•wrote columns for harpers and New Yorker
• “once more to the lake” (I)

Essais/essayer
•essayer French for to try, or to test, or to try out
• Essaie, French for attempt, essay, test, trial, etc.
• early term for essay

Aphorism
•terse saying of general truth
• term 1st used in “Aphorism of Hippocrates”
• means definition or distinction