Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Essays have traditionally been sub-visual guide to essay writing as formal and informal.
The concept of an “essay” has been extended to other mediums beyond writing. An essay has been defined in a variety of ways. One definition is a “prose composition with a focused subject of discussion” or a “long, systematic discourse”. It is difficult to define the genre into which essays fall.
He notes that “the essay is a literary device for saying almost everything about almost anything”, and adds that “by tradition, almost by definition, the essay is a short piece”. Furthermore, Huxley argues that “essays belong to a literary species whose extreme variability can be studied most effectively within a three-poled frame of reference”. The personal and the autobiographical: The essayists that feel most comfortable in this pole “write fragments of reflective autobiography and look at the world through the keyhole of anecdote and description”. The objective, the factual, and the concrete particular: The essayists that write from this pole “do not speak directly of themselves, but turn their attention outward to some literary or scientific or political theme. Their art consists of setting forth, passing judgment upon, and drawing general conclusions from the relevant data”.
The abstract-universal: In this pole “we find those essayists who do their work in the world of high abstractions”, who are never personal and who seldom mention the particular facts of experience. Huxley adds that the most satisfying essays “make the best not of one, not of two, but of all the three worlds in which it is possible for the essay to exist. For the rest of his life, he continued revising previously published essays and composing new ones. 1500s contain over 100 examples widely regarded as the predecessor of the modern essay. Zuihitsu have existed since almost the beginnings of Japanese literature. Many of the most noted early works of Japanese literature are in this genre.