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The concept of an “essay” has been extended to other mediums beyond writing. An essay has been defined in a variety of ways. One definition is a “prose composition with a focused subject of discussion” or a “long, systematic discourse”. It is difficult to define the genre into which essays fall.
He notes that “the essay is a literary device for saying almost everything about almost anything”, and adds that “by tradition, almost by definition, the essay is a short piece”. Furthermore, Huxley argues that “essays belong to a literary species whose extreme variability can be studied most effectively within a three-poled frame of reference”. The personal and the autobiographical: The essayists that feel most comfortable in this pole “write fragments of reflective autobiography and look at the world through the keyhole of anecdote and description”. The objective, the factual, and the concrete particular: The essayists that write from this pole “do not speak directly of themselves, but turn their attention outward to some literary or scientific or political theme. Their art consists of setting forth, passing judgment upon, and drawing general conclusions from the relevant data”. The abstract-universal: In this pole “we find those essayists who do their work in the world of high abstractions”, who are never personal and who seldom mention the particular facts of experience.