What is a literary essay?

We explain what a literary essay is and how to make one. In addition, the parts that compose it and an example of this type of essay.

  1. What is a literary essay?

A literary essay, sometimes referred to simply as an essay, is a short and prose dissertation, which analyzes or reflects on a subject of free choice and approach by the author. He is considered one of the literary genres , along with narrative, poetry and dramaturgy, heir to the didactics and therefore related to teaching.

The essays can be diverse and varied, since it is a subjective and personal approach, although rigorous, of the matter to be treated. This means that it has opinions and arguments of the author , but based on logic , information and sensitivities. Its purpose is none other than to argue about the chosen theme.

As for its dimensions, the essay  is usually relatively short , didactically organized to gradually approach the subject, using the stylistic and literary resources of the language to give poetic and argumentative force to your ideas.

Therefore, an essay should not be confused with a monograph or a technical document (such as a thesis). The topics addressed by the essay are virtually endless : from politics, society and knowledge, to sports, the arts or the imagination itself.

Throughout history there have been great essayist thinkers, who made this genre one of the main illustrated vehicles for communication and discussion of ideas, especially in times prior to the massification of information. Some important names in this regard are those of Aristotle (384-322 BC), Yoshida Kenkö (1283-1350), Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626), José Ortega y Gasset (1883- 1955), among many others.

  1. How to make a literary essay?

Literary essay
An essay should address a topic a topic in a way that generates interest.

There are no steps to write an essay, since it is a literary genre and requires artistic expertise, documentation and talent . Even so, as the essay has been closely linked to the educational apparatus of many countries, its writing could be simplified to the elaboration of a school essay, as follows:

  • Choice  of subject . An essay should address a topic or an edge of a topic in a way that generates interest and, if possible, passion. In addition, it should not be such a broad topic, but as narrow as possible.
  • Documentation . Once the topic has been chosen, we must document ourselves, that is, read about it from different sources, to get a more complete idea about the subject.
  • Preparation . Before writing, it is convenient to make an outline of ideas that will serve as a script or essay skeleton, telling us in what order to approach each idea or argument.
  • Writing . We proceed to write according to the script, which means exposing the ideas as clearly as possible and in the most logical order possible, then rereading the entire text and correcting the writing, making sure that it says what it is intended to say.
  1. Parts of a literary essay

The structure of an essay is extremely free, since it is a text that values ​​the course on the subject and whose main value is to argue and reflect freely , at the whim of the writer. However, in its systematic study, three forms of structure can be identified in broad strokes, which are:

  • Analyzer  or deductive . First, he exposes the thesis or the topic he will address, and then develops the arguments related to the subject.
  • Synthesizing  or inductive . Explore the arguments and data in the first instance, and then from them recompose the topic as the final conclusion .
  • Framed . The most school structure, begins with the presentation of the thesis or the subject, then discusses the arguments and positions, and finally re-elaborates the thesis taking into account what is found in the middle.
  1. Example of literary essay

As an example, a fragment of the essay “Literature and the right to death” (1949) by Maurice Blanchot.

“(…) Let us admit that literature begins at the moment when literature is a question. This question is not confused with the doubts or scruples of the writer. If he comes to question himself by writing, his business; That he is absorbed in what he writes and indifferent to the possibility of writing it, that he does not even think of anything, is in his right and thus is happy.

But this remains: once written, there is a question on that page that, perhaps without my knowing it, has not stopped asking the writer when he was writing; and now, in the work, awaiting the closeness of a reader – from any reader, deep or vain – the same questioning, directed to language, silently lies behind the man who writes and reads, by the language made literature.

It is possible to label this concern that literature has for itself as fatness. He insists on speaking to the literature of his nothingness, of his lack of seriousness, of his bad faith; This is precisely the abuse that is reproached. It is presented as important, being considered an object of doubt. It is confirmed by despising. Wanted: it does more than it should. Well, maybe it’s one of those things that deserve to be found, but not sought. ”

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