There's something a lot more human in trying to succeed than in success itself, and the origin of the word bears this out. It comes from the French meaning an attempt or trial, and ultimately, it's this fumbling, this mustering of what shaky information we possess, gaps and all, that gives the form its absolute charm. All this is beautifully reflected in "The Art of the Personal Essay," a recent and suddenly indispensable book edited, with an introduction, by Phillip Lopate.
For the sake of convenience, I have read a number of theessays here in Lydia Fakundiny’s The Art of the Essay and Phillip Lopate’sThe Art of the Personal Essay, both available and accessible. Other texts Ihave read in first editions, wherever possible. Full documentation appearsin my list of works cited...
The Art Of The Personal Essay - .xyz
What makes a good personal essay? The personal essay seems to be the hot new form, but it is one of the oldest forms of writing, like poetry, and—like poetry—it relies on metaphor, rhythm, voice and specific detail. A writer of personal essays should read them actively with a mind and an ear tuned to nuance, shape, variety and style. My students groan when they hear this unalterable dictate, but will a novelist ever be born from a writer who doesn’t read novels? It would be something close to a miracle if a fine personal essay emerged from a writer ignorant of its long tradition. A good place to begin is with Phillip Lopate’s excellent anthology, The Art of The Personal Essay.