Sunday 3 April 2011

Are some bloggers essayists?!?

Reading through the definitions of an essay form, in preparation for my postgraduate class, I was consumed by the thought that many of us bloggers could actually be essayists. Just take this definition from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: An essay is a short piece of writing which is often written from an author's personal point of view. Essays can consist a number of elements including: literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author. While famous essayists like Hazlitt, Lamb and others chose the medium (newspapers) that was available to them in their hey days, many writers today use the medium of blogging. But what differentiates bloggers from essayists is the fact that not many people in those days chose to dabble in prose; It was seen as the purview of a gifted few unlike blogging which is taken up by many people in today's world.

Reading Lamb's essays, I wonder whether many bloggers unconsciously follow his style and way of expressing themselves. Lamb is one of my favourite essayist and today, as I read his essays, it does not seem very different from the posts I have been reading in some of the blogs. Nostalgia, humour and intimacy made Lamb's essays memorable and lucid. His writings were devoid of flowery language and high-end vocabulary. His style was quite simple and therefore struck a chord with many literature students and others. Even our blog posts do much the same.

One thought which kept recurring within me as I scanned line after line from Lamb's essay was that if Lamb was alive today, he would have been a well-read blogger.

A few lines from Charles Lamb's essay: The South-Sea House

"Of quite another stamp was the then accountant, John Tipp. He neither pretended to high blood, nor in good truth cared one fig about the matter. He "thought an accountant the greatest character in the world, and himself the greatest accountant in it." Yet John was not without his hobby. The fiddle relieved his vacant hours. He sang, certainly, with other notes than to the Orphean lyre. He did, indeed, scream and scrape most abominably."

This post was an extension of my reading of Lamb's essays. I wonder whether my dear readers have thought of their writings in a similar fashion. Tell me. 

Image: 1. Internet
           2. Internet


  1. If I knew half those words that apparently are not flowery language and high-end vocabulary I might agree.

    Nice post Susan

    I bow to thee oh enlightened one...


  2. Hello Susan:

    Yes, the blogger is often a modern day essayist.

    What comes to my mind are two essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson from the mid 18th century America, which were once required reading in any American Literature course. Self-Reliance and The Over Soul. Here's a link if you wish it for your studies:

    Take care,

  3. I agree. In fact I was just thinking about this recently. Many of my pieces, like yours would fall into this category.

  4. i think in everything we write we each add our world view...for me i try to make a point to everything i write...have a purpose, but that is jusr me...thoguh i agree with the premiss of this...

  5. Personally I think each blog entry should speak from the heart. I don´t like to read blogs with flowery English, like Alejandro mentioned. I ma sorry if I step on toes but it does not appeal to me. Thoughts, emotions and feelings are real.

  6. I try my best to make my written posts essays that have a point, mean something and have an impact on my readers.

    Other days I just post pictures of cookies and stuff. I suspect my reader like those better....

  7. Love your posts always make me think. Open ended questions as us nurses say ;) see myself as a ranting rambler rather than writing essay's

  8. I agree with you Susan. We have so much talent in our bloggers. Lamb is also one of my favorites.I am sure if Lamb was alive today he would have considered as another great essayist.

  9. Well, Susan, I must agree with you that some bloggers are essayists, though not many of the bloggers I visit are such. As for me, I am no essayist. I prefer to think of myself as a "writer." Sometimes, that includes my little perspectives on things and my personal experiences and observations, but those writings I just prefer to call "creative non-fiction" versus "essay." I think I'm just very old-school in that I associate an essay with a formally written piece of work that is usually done to fulfill a requirement. It's just the way I've been conditioned, I suppose... :-)

    At any rate, essays or not, there is lots of good writing to be found in various blogs. As long as the writing is good, I don't worry much about how it is labeled. I just read... :-)

    Have a brilliant week, Dear Susan!


  10. Susan, Sweetie!
    Just that RINGING sound of the word 'essayist' puts me in a trance. I am afraid that my own writing has not progressed beyond--picture this--me sitting on the red roof of my dog house, writing: "It was a dark and stormy night..."

    LOVE and PEACE!

  11. Some bloggers are very good essayists actually while others are more of diary keepers...the ones with a really big challenge are the poets though as poetry is really a difficult art!

  12. Yes, I believe you are right, even though I have to admit that in this area I lack knowledge and schooling to be completely sure.;)
    I guess I write my posts at times in a form of an assay, as I want it to be a story that has an easy flow and where the train of thoughts is clear.;)
    But ultimately my blog is just a reflection of my thoughts and feelings, in words and pictures and I pay very little attention to whether it follows any given writing laws and rules.;)
    Have a lovely Monday dear Susan,

  13. I cannot say that I have ever looked at myself as such. Interesting concept though:)

  14. Interesting...I write from emotion and give little thought to the words...LOL can ya tell.. it just happens....essay...hmmmmm...As always...XOXOXO

  15. From my experience, essays are either informative or persuasive. I think a lot of bloggers aren't aware of the purpose they are writing about, or are ambivalent. I also think that they may very well have a purpose but aren't aware of it consciously but it is reflected in the writing. I am new to blogging so there may very well be professional bloggers, for lack of a better term. I would think their writings would be more likely to be essays. My first time here. Great blog. Thanks. Tim

  16. Always wonderful expression and sentiment Susan. I love how you make me think.

    I'm inclined to agree that the blogging platform has opened up the opportunity for those unknown essayists to be able to show the world what they are made of.

    I often think it doesn't matter whether you are a diarist, an essayist, a poet, etc.. one thing for sure is that they all have a passion for what they do, be it long or short term and to me they will always be writers in one form or another.

  17. I tend to think we are essayists, and we are bloggers. Many will swing between the informative, persuasive style of an essay to the pure blogging for the sheer heck of it, or latest recipe. And that's all good.
    What I feel is so great is that today's free websites and now everyone can have their own blog means so many are really trying to improve their writing ability and grammar. I mean, when did you ever see such an incentive to getting so many adults to study or improve their English before?

  18. Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.

  19. Well, 'essayist' is a raher big word.
    All I can say, is that there are some well-written, versatile blogs out there.

    One of them, "A Majority of Two" covers all apects of life in a down-to-earh language (the blogger has admitted several times that she doesn't have high education). The blog is quite popular and people have confessed reading it with their morning coffee.

    As for myself, I have never thought of myself as writer, essayist, or anything like that, as I have to struggle with the language sometimes; it's not my native language and I don't use it in daily life.

  20. I wrote more esay type posts when I first started blogging. Sometimes, though I run out of things to say. As you know I'm trying to write poetry, and so I guess my purpose now is more to have fun with words.

    Your posts are always thought provoking.

  21. Essays, I like essays. I like a story told through the eyes of the writer. Not simply an account of events, but the feelings and the emotions of the one relaying the story

  22. reminds me of my first blog(now defunct) "The Morpheus Times"... there i would post many of the essays i wrote 'bout politics, Philippines, and a lot more human issues... but it seems it didn't last long... i like writing essays but i realized that my passion is on poetry.... but i'd like to tell you that i adore you, actually you and AJ, as few of the excellent essayists i knew these days... you both write really expressive lines and not boring to read... something one could really relate...thanks. i always had a wonderful time reading in here.

    ...more powers to you and God bless.


  23. good morning dear lady! hmmmm...yes, i think you may be quite right of some bloggers here in blogland - quite right - however, i think i fall more into that category that our dear friend nevine describes so well - i simply write from my heart and if it feels good and sounds good, i'm good with it! does that make sense? ;)

    oh, and i hope you'll drop by "words unspoken" and "gypsywomanworld" when you can - i've added a little personal touch and hope you like it!!!

    have a glorious day there, far far away, lady!!!

  24. AG:

    Thanks for your kind words, AG. And please don't bow. These are just flashes.

    Have a great remainder of the week :)


    I am glad you hear me. Emerson was also another fantastic essayist. I have read those essays. Thanks for taking the time to provide the link.

    Joy always :)

  25. Dana:

    Woohoo. Oh yes :) Thanks for dropping by, dear Dana. Hope you are well in spirit, mind and body.


    True. You capture the essence of it all, so well. Having a purpose definitely provides clarity to the work and also to the reader.

  26. Nelieta:

    Very true, Nelieta. From the heart is something I religiously agree to. And the form is something we arrive at by default. I could never imagine blog posts as essays but unconsciously some of us are essayists.


    Hmmm. The visual holds greater appeal than the written.
    Joy always :)

  27. Charles:

    Thanks for the appreciation. Glad that the posts make you think, BBB. Part of the package, I reckon.


    Lamb rocks. He never fails to touch me and whenever I get to his essays, I am never disappointed.

  28. Nevine:

    Glad to see you here after a long time, dearest Nevine. Busy graduate student. Creative non-fiction seems like a great title as well. Infact, essays were called non-fiction prose.
    I hear you when you say that essay is a formally written piece. Labels are another way of trying to add more interest factor to what we have been doing.

    You have a great remainder of the week as well, dear Nevine :)


    Trance!??! Meditation trance? Of course I can picture you like that. Why not?

  29. OtienoHongo:

    Poetry is an art, I agree but even writing simple prose is equally an art which not many excel in.


    Your posts can well be called essays, Zuzana. Unconsciously we fall into a pattern, isn't that wonderful?

  30. Mary:

    I think you should start looking at your writing from different perspectives. You will be surprised by the possibilities :)


    xoxox :)

  31. Tim:

    Welcome Time. Thanks for dropping by.
    Many bloggers write for the joy of writing or maybe they write because they want to keep a record of their thoughts. I guess even the reasons above are good enough for a purpose.
    Tim, welcome to the world of blogging. I'm sure that you will enjoy the ride.


    Glad to have you back in the loop. Passion is the key to doing anything. Thanks for coming by, dear SJ.

  32. Jim:

    Of course, we are bloggers first.Amazing, isn't Jim, the possibilities that are open to all of us today. Wonderful. Thanks for coming by, Gentleman Jim.


    Welcome and thanks for coming by. I would have loved to know your name. Thanks for your kind words. They are much appreciated.

  33. DUTA:

    Sometimes words seem too big but they do seem apt. I should check out the blog you've mentioned. Inspite of all that, your posts have their own charm and loved by all of us, dear DUTA.


    Fun with words, is the point. Some use it for prose and some for poetry.

  34. Myriam:

    Even I like essays, Myriam. Lot of intersecting points, I see. Nice to know. There is very little distinction between an essay and short story.

    Joy always :)


    How good to see you. How have you been? I wish you kept that old blog. Thanks for your very kind words, Kelvin. And yes, AJ is a great and talented blogger as well. I personally enjoy his posts and the way he guides us through the various treasure points of different cities.

    I wish you joy and peace always, Kelvin.

  35. Jenean:

    It has been a very long time. Hope you have been well. I can never forget you Jenean as you were my first non-Indian follower in the days I had just begun blogging. You are very special to me.

    I will for sure drop by. All of us write from the heart and that is why irrespective of the form, we write well.

    Joy always and much love across ether :)

  36. Actually ma'am, the same thought occurred to me many a times while I was writing my blog or suddenly when a new idea for a blog-post occurs to me. Even you mentioned to me once when you were talking to me about blogging, that it helps us improve our writing skills. So, I'm happy to be blogger!!

  37. Yes, I do believe that some bloggers are essayists. Sometimes I feel like an essayist myself. And I would certainly say that you are one too.

  38. Nikhila:



    Quite true and even I think that you are one. Maybe one day you should publish your posts as a book :) Hope you have been well, dear Angie.

  39. Hi,Susan! I accidently came across this piece, and it made me think if I belong to the category of writers who use flowery language. As a new blogger, I'm confused as to what kind of writing comes naturally to me. At times, I write in a very Shobhaa De-ish, magazine-ish way. Sometimes, my writing tends to become academic, and occasionaly slightly poetic. Please take out some time and have a look at and leave your informed views. Waiting! :)

  40. Hello Suraj:

    Welcome here. Thanks for writing. I am honoured that you sek my opinion of your blog. I guess all of us have our own stylys. Sometimes it so happens that we write however we feel like and therefore don't get slotted into a particular style. I guess it is important to be writing than thinking of styles and all that. So, I'd say JUST WRITE, no matter how and what.

    Best wishes and good luck.

    Shall soon be swinging by your place.

    Joy always :)

  41. Susan, your reply makes a lot of sense to me, because I have started my blog so that I could get myself to writing. I think everyone begins a blogsite with this aim, and gradually changes his/ her style to garner more attention and appreciation. What do you say?

  42. Quite right. As we begin writing, we uderstand the way we write and thus after a point we note that we are following a particular style. And this knowledge comes after some time. In the initial phase, we are quite euphoric about the process rather than the style.
    As for me, I think of changing styles to challenge my usual and habitual way of writing. Sometimes it tends to get a tad monotonous and therefore I think of altering my way of writing. I definitely don't think of attention when I am writing :)



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