The Modern Essay in French

The Modern Essay in French

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As a textual form, the altIgessai predominates in modern and contemporary literature in French. Emerging from an earlier tradition and distinguished from its English-language counterpart, the French-language essay ranges from Stephane Mallarme to Colette, Victor Segalen to Aime Cesaire, Jean Grenier to Pierre Michon. The altIgessai remains, however, one of the most hazily identified of textual forms, its definition often depending on the progressive elimination of all other generic possibilities. Excluded from the altIgarchigenres (theatre, poetry, altIgrecit), it can even be seen as a hold-all category whose role is to absorb the anarchic extremes of writing.altBRg It is perhaps this very lack of pretension to orthodoxy that has drawn so many writers to the altIgessai. The conventional understanding of the term - as a tentative, unsystematic exploration - stresses the genre's provisional nature, its refusal of any claims to comprehensiveness. The altIgessai exploits the devices of anecdote, illustration and humour; it is addressed to a wide and often general audience; it is also intricately linked to the performance of ideological and writerly strategies, often reordering the classical art of rhetoric and persuasion. As the contributions to this volume show, there is a need to outline an ethics and politics, as well as poetics, of essayism.qThere are essays in verse, to be sure, notably Popea#39;s Essay on Man and Essay on Criticism. In their personal, non-specialist manner, their appealing style and their free construction, these do in fact echo the prose essay in the Montaignean anbsp;...

Title:The Modern Essay in French
Author: Charles Forsdick, Andy Stafford
Publisher:Peter Lang - 2005

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