The Essayist then is a Personality…

Dr. Leary explains, “Our present delight in the explanations of R. P. Blackmur, T. S. Eliot, or Lionel Trilling and the less strenuous insight of E. B. White results from their ability to say complicated things simply, without posturing in any attitude but their own. They are among those few who, in Leslie Fiedler’s words, ‘have discovered a new way to translate the speaking voice and living self into printed prose; to achieve on the page, the lucid direct, orderly and vivid flow of conversation, which conversation itself, interrupted and have-heard, seldom attains.'”

“The essayist then is a personality, a man speaking his mind. His first claim to our attention is just that, but he becomes inevitably also a guide, discovering directions for the minds of other men. Next to lyric poetry, which it in some manner resembles, the essay is the most personal kind of writing, both in expression of the person who writes it and in reception by the person who reads.  It’s dependence on fact is less important than its revelation of point of view. Its relation to truth is only to that portion of truth glimpsed by the particularized and therefore imperfect vision of the essayist. neither historian or philosopher, and not limited to the findings of what we call scholarship, the essayist is finally only essayist, not oracle. His footsteps never quite fit feet which attempt to follow. When he has disclosed something of attitude which might not have been so clearly known before, or of mood which is attractive, he has done his work. We do him disservice when we expect more.”

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