Sunday, October 12, 2008

Essaying the Essay

In French, essayer means to try, and as I have done briefly for some ten months now at this URL, I am now trying my hand at some essays of greater heft - where some of the wordier ones here have run around 500 words, long for the Web, I'm going for five to ten times that length, a feat of concentration I hope is not beyond my ability to sustain my own interest, let alone that of potential readers.

I've been perusing the current bestsellers by Sloane Crosley and Chelsea Handler, but I find the classic essays of the great E. B. White even more instructive.

I have also been dipping, with delight, into the works of Charles Lamb, whose writings are personal yet relevant to all and whose language is, despite some anachronisms, lapidary. His 1823 essay on New Year's Eve is a gem; so is his "A bachelor’s complaint of the behaviour of married people," as fresh and as funny as it was when it was written in 1811.

If I can do a tenth as well two centuries later, I shall be quite pleased. More on this anon.

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