Literary essay features parts types and examples

Literary essay

The literary essay is a discursive genre that aims to defend an idea or a point of view; Likewise, it seeks to analyze and interpret a given topic based on logical reasoning. He is considered literary because he has an aesthetic value that is reflected in his style and the way he uses language.

Several authors claim that a literary essay belongs to a hybrid genre; This is because its execution requires an aesthetic dimension, but it also needs logical reasoning to present its themes and ideas. In other words: literary essays are a union between logical analysis and aesthetic creation.

In addition, literary essays are considered personal and didactic testimonies, in which the writer can reflect from his subjectivity and use arguments to defend his criteria and convince readers of his position.

More about Literary essay

It can be said that the essay as a written expression has its origins in Classical Antiquity, where Greek philosophers wrote “lectures” that aimed to express opinions on different topics. However, essays began to be used more frequently from the 16th century onwards with important writers and philosophers such as Francis Bacon and Michel de Montaigne.

On the other hand, literary essays are a strand of the essay style that is not only responsible for making known an author’s point of view and perceptions; also has a creative purpose. In general, they focus on the analysis of artistic manifestations such as poetry, novels, music, among others.

Today, literary essays are considered important artistic works and valuable analytical texts. Among the most famous are Octavio Paz ‘s Elm Pears ; Fragments of a speech of love , by Roland Barthes, The monsters and the critics, by JRR Tolkien and Other inquisitions , by Jorge Luis Borges.

Characteristics of the literary essay

Literary essays have the following characteristics:

Link between logical reasoning and artistic subjectivity

Literary essays combine creative elements with logical structures; for this reason, they are considered hybrid texts that unite reasonable arguments with the refined and artistic use of language.

They are reflective texts with sustained ideas

A literary essay is much more than an opinion or a comment; This happens because all the ideas expressed in this type of text are supported by investigations, quotations or arguments. That is, literary essays are not mere assumptions, as they require research, reading and reasoning.

Fluent language management

Literary essays are characterized by intertwining ideas in a coherent way, allowing their reading to be fluid. Some authors claim that writing a literary essay is similar to creating music, as in both cases there must be a logical composition.

Likewise, the tests are characterized by the proper use of connectors; They are linguistic units used to link two or more ideas. For example: in addition, because, therefore, as a consequence, among others. Connectors are those that allow the test to be structured harmoniously.

Parts of the literary essay

Portions of an essay may vary depending on the writer’s interests and style. However, it can be established that a literary essay has the following structure:

1. Introduction

In this part, the author makes a brief introduction where he puts the thesis he wants to develop or the topic he will address during the essay. Likewise, in this section the writer can specify the methodology he will use or the texts and works he will analyze below.

2. Development

In the course of the essay, the writer describes the data he has found; This description may accompany you with personal appreciations.

Subsequently, the author analyzes the content and establishes arguments that support his perspective; to do this, you can put quotes from the works you have chosen to analyze or arguments from other recognized writers who agree with your point of view.

3. Conclusions

Finally, the author makes his final remarks. In them, you can summarize the arguments presented above as a conclusion, you can also put how the writing process was, the bibliography you consulted, the acknowledgments, among others.

Types of Literary Essays

According to the theme, the essays can be cataloged in:

Literary essays on poetry

In these essays, writers carry out an analysis of poetic works or poetic feelings. An example of this literary essay can be El arco y la lyra, by Octavio Paz. In this text, Paz analyzes the place that poetry has occupied throughout history and its importance in people’s lives.

Literary essays on novels

These are essays that aim to analyze and interpret novels. This type of essay is widely used in schools and universities, since teachers often assign the reading of an important work (such as Don Quixote de la Mancha ) so that students can carry out a critical essay where they put their interpretation. of said work.

literary essays on the exercise of writing

In these essays, the authors reflect on the writer’s work. Therefore, they analyze literary styles and the use of language; They also place opinions on the role that the figure of the writer plays in society. This is seen in essays such as Oscar Wilde ‘s Pen, Pencil and Poison or Ernesto Sabato’s The Writer and His Ghosts .

Literary essays on philosophy

There are also literary essays focused on the analysis of philosophical or epistemological positions. They are considered literary because they use refined and aesthetic language; that is, they demonstrate a concern with writing style. This is seen in the essay Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche.

Mixed literary essays

They are those that unite two or more different topics. For example, it could be a literary essay that talks about literature and history; It could also be about poetry and music or novels and their social-historical context.

How to make a literary essay?

Literary essays are highly sought after in classrooms, as well as in some creative work (publishers, editors, among others). Here are some steps you can take if you want to write a literary essay:

1. Selection of the topic to be addressed

The first step is to select the topic you want to analyze and interpret in the essay. For that, it is recommended to be precise and to define exactly the approach that the text will have; in this way, ramblings are avoided.

For example, if you want to write an essay on modern poetry, it is advisable to choose a certain group of works and authors; having delimited topics, you will have more clarity and fluency at the time of writing.

2. Research and documentation

After the topic is selected, the search process begins. Properly documented ensures that the essay offers a fresh and well-founded perspective; For this reason, it is recommended to consult different sources and read other essays that have covered similar topics.

3. Preliminary Scheme

Before starting to write, it is necessary to make an outline or outline to serve as a guide during the writing of the essay. This allows you to write more naturally and also avoids rambling; In addition, it allows you to maintain order in the text structure.

4. Writing

Finally, you can proceed with writing the essay, taking into account the outline made earlier. Although the text may have subjective judgments, it is important that the essay follows a logical order and uses properly supported arguments. When writing is complete, it is recommended that you reread the essay several times until you get a satisfactory version.

Examples of literary essay

1. Pen, Pencil and Poison , Oscar Wilde

“Often, people reproach writers and artists for being incomplete and imperfect, just men of action. And yet, it is very normal for it to be so. This concentration of thought, this vehement ardor which characterizes the artist’s temperament, forcibly excludes other qualities. For those who live preoccupied with the beauty of form, there is nothing else in the world that really matters.

However, exceptions to this rule abound. As for Thomas Griffiths Wainewrigth, the subject of this brief study, despite his highly artistic temperament, he had, in addition to art, many other teachers and was not content merely to be a poet, an art critic, an antiquary, a prose writer, a hobbyist of everything. who is beautiful and agreeable to all that is delicious, he was also a forger of prodigious skill, and a subtle and mysterious poisoner, perhaps unrivaled at any time.

2. Elm Pears , Octavio Paz

“As Pedro Henríquez Ureña pointed out that the distinguishing notes of the Mexican sensibility were restraint, melancholy, love of neutral tones, opinions about the character of our poetry tend almost unanimously to repeat, underline or enrich these statements.

The Mexican introvert has created a sober, intelligent and sharp poetry that shies away from both the glare and the scream and that, far from speech and confession, is demure, when delivered, with confidence. A poetry that prefers the sigh to the sob, the fragment of the smile, the shadow of the night and the meridian illuminate the hues of the twilight. Neither sentimental nor sensitive: sensitive.

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