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These three poles (or worlds in which the essay may exist) are: Huxley adds that the most satisfying essays "..the best not of one, not of two, but of all the three worlds in which it is possible for the essay to exist." The word essay derives from the French infinitive essayer, "to try" or "to attempt".In English essay first meant "a trial" or "an attempt", and this is still an alternative meaning.She works one-on-one with learning disabled students at Landmark College in Putney, Vermont, and lives in Walpole, New Hampshire.
While brevity usually defines an essay, voluminous works like John Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding and Thomas Malthus's An Essay on the Principle of Population are counterexamples.
In some countries (e.g., the United States and Canada), essays have become a major part of formal education.
Secondary students are taught structured essay formats to improve their writing skills; admission essays are often used by universities in selecting applicants, and in the humanities and social sciences essays are often used as a way of assessing the performance of students during final exams.
The concept of an "essay" has been extended to other media beyond writing.
In France, Michel de Montaigne's three volume Essais in the mid 1500s contain over 100 examples widely regarded as the predecessor of the modern essay.
In Italy, Baldassare Castiglione wrote about courtly manners in his essay Il Cortigiano.Essays have traditionally been sub-classified as formal and informal.Formal essays are characterized by "serious purpose, dignity, logical organization, length," whereas the informal essay is characterized by "the personal element (self-revelation, individual tastes and experiences, confidential manner), humor, graceful style, rambling structure, unconventionality or novelty of theme," etc.A film essay is a movie that often incorporates documentary filmmaking styles and focuses more on the evolution of a theme or idea.A photographic essay covers a topic with a linked series of photographs that may have accompanying text or captions.Ben Jonson first used the word essayist in English in 1609, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.English essayists included Robert Burton (1577–1641) and Sir Thomas Browne (1605–1682).For the rest of his life, he continued revising previously published essays and composing new ones.Francis Bacon's essays, published in book form in 1597, 1612, and 1625, were the first works in English that described themselves as essays.The Frenchman Michel de Montaigne (1533–1592) was the first author to describe his work as essays; he used the term to characterize these as "attempts" to put his thoughts into writing, and his essays grew out of his commonplacing.Inspired in particular by the works of Plutarch, a translation of whose Œuvres Morales (Moral works) into French had just been published by Jacques Amyot, Montaigne began to compose his essays in 1572; the first edition, entitled Essais, was published in two volumes in 1580.