The essay as a literary genre has a long tradition. He was born in France in the 17th century. The prototype of the genre from which the name originates is Essais (Trials), published in 1580. Its author was Michel de Montaigne, a French philosopher. Later, the following writers reached for an essay: Pascal, Diderot, Rousseau. A feature of essays is breaking rules, an open form, combining poetry, narrative, scientific discourse, joke, and parody.
According to the Dictionary of the English language, an essay is a short scientific or literary dissertation that deals with the subject in a subjective way. A handy dictionary of literary terms gives such a definition of the term in which the essay is: “philosophical, scientific, critical, moralistic, usually written in prose, in which the author freely, and at the same time elaborately, develops the interpretation of a phenomenon or solves the problem, not masking subjectivity adopted point of view. The evidence contained in e. Is generally subordinated to the rigors of standard reasoning; the unusual associations of ideas, digressions, paradoxical formulas (paradox), poetic images, aphorisms, and not infrequently narrative or lyrical-reflective elements play a significant role in it. “
It is believed that it is easier to describe an essay as what it is not than what it is. It is something out of focus, it avoids unambiguous definition. It is described by comparing with other types of utterances. The essay uses elementary structures of other genres, “intercepts” them and modifies them for its own needs.
Roma Sendyka presents this problem in a colorful way: “the essay seems to be all at once and nothing at the same time – from poetry through drama to prose, from literature to specialist scientific works: there is a trace of its discreet presence everywhere. (…) The one who becomes an amateur of this form of expression, a victim who is troubled by a highly uncomfortable question: is in an unenviable position: what he wants to capture – goes to infinity (…) “.
Due to the criterion of the composition, a formal essay and an informal essay are distinguished. The scientific (academic) essay belongs to formal essays because of the similarity to the treaty and the dissertation. In the informal essays, the subjective point of view of the author and his individual creativity are important.
The use of the scientific essay is broad. It can be used to express controversial views that are outside the mainstream of science, it can be an autonomous form of presentation of the courts in which not only the content but also the artistic form is important or play a popularizing role.
Usually older and more experienced scientists use the essay as a form of expression. This is due to the fact that it is proof of the author’s reading and artistry, which he acquires with age. However, students are often encouraged to write essays (eg to pass a course or a competition). They can, thanks to this, consider a given problem and learn how to write their findings in an interesting form. At the same time, they do not have to collect all the arguments in a given case, but choose the ones they consider the most important.