An essay is a small-volume essay with a free composition, expressing individual impressions, considerations on a specific issue, a problem and obviously not a claim to completeness and an exhaustive interpretation of the subject.
So, in all the presented definitions, some signs are named, according to which a text can be attributed to the essay genre. Referring to the special literature devoted to this problem, we obtain a relatively complete list.
Features of the essay as a literature genre.
1. The presence of a specific topic or question.
The work devoted to the analysis of a wide range of problems, by definition, cannot be performed in the essay genre. The topic of the essay is always specific, some researchers say that it is of a particular nature.
2. The personal nature of the perception of the problem and its understanding.
An essay is a subjective genre, it is interesting and valuable precisely because it enables one to see the personality of the author, the peculiarity of his position, style of thinking, speech, attitude to the world.
3. Small volume.
There are, of course, no hard boundaries, but even the most articulate essayist, as a rule, limits his essay to two or three dozen pages (this can be enough a single sheet, several sheets, reflective phrases).
4. Free composition.
This is an important feature of the essay. Researchers note that the essay is by its nature designed so that it does not tolerate any formal framework. It is often built in defiance of the laws of logic, subject to arbitrary associations, and is guided by the principle “Everything is vice versa!”.
5. Ease of narration.
It is important for the author of an essay to establish a reliable style of communication with the reader; to be understood, he avoids purposely complicated, obscure, excessively “strict” constructions. The researchers note that a good essay can be written only by someone who is fluent in the topic, sees it from different angles and is ready to present the reader with a non-exhaustive, but multi-dimensional view of the phenomenon that has become the starting point of his reflections.
The essay is intended to surprise the reader – this, according to many researchers, is its mandatory quality. Moreover, the essay is born from the surprise that arises from the author when reading a book, watching a movie, or talking to a friend. The starting point for reflections embodied in an essay is often the aphoristic, bright statement or paradoxical definition, which literally confronts, at first glance, indisputable, but mutually exclusive, statements, characteristics, and theses.