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Title: Affinities and contestations : the self and the other in the essay
Other Titles: The Edinburgh Companion to the Essay
Authors: Aquilina, Mario
Keywords: Self
Thought and thinking
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Citation: Aquilina, M. (2022). Affinities and contestations : the self and the other in the essay. In M. Aquilina, N. B. Wallack & B. Cowser Jr. (Eds.), The Edinburgh Companion to the Essay (pp. 17-36). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Abstract: To many readers of this volume, this characterization of the essay will seem unoriginal. Edward Hoagland is one of many contemporary essayists who have said something similar about the form: ‘Essays . . . hang somewhere on a line between two sturdy poles: this is what I think, and this is what I am.’ An ‘essay is like the human voice talking, its order the mind’s natural flow’. Hoagland’s words – bringing together the ‘I’, the mind and the individual voice (the individual, their thinking and their language) – echo and are echoed by many others. Scott Russell Sanders tells us that ‘the essay is the closest thing we have, on paper, to a record of the individual mind at work and at play’. Indeed, for Sanders, this association between the individual and the essay is not only constitutive of the essay but also fundamental to understanding readers’ fascination with the form. Part of the pleasure of reading essays, he suggests, comes from ‘relish[ing] the spectacle of a single consciousness making sense of a portion of the chaos’. Sara Levine concurs. We have learned to expect the individual to shape an essay to the extent that ‘to the essay you come – you should come, I’m telling you – with the hope of confronting a particular person’. In short, to use Phillip Lopate’s words, the essay is for many a ‘rich . . . vehicle for displaying personality in all its willfully changing aspects’. [Excerpt]
ISBN: 9781474486026
Appears in Collections:Scholarly Works - FacArtEng

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