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The concept of an "essay" has been extended to other media beyond writing.A film essay is a movie that often incorporates documentary filmmaking styles and focuses more on the evolution of a theme or idea.Francis Bacon's essays, published in book form in 1597, 1612, and 1625, were the first works in English that described themselves as essays.
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.
Essays are commonly used as literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author.
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".
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.
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.Turkle seems to express hope that through proper education these younger generations will see the importance of limited tracking of our electronic fingerprint, and begin to implore legislators to pass laws to prevent such tracking.Students seem to have a veracious appetite for new technology.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.For the rest of his life, he continued revising previously published essays and composing new ones.In Italy, Baldassare Castiglione wrote about courtly manners in his essay Il Cortigiano.In the 17th century, the Jesuit Baltasar Gracián wrote about the theme of wisdom.Almost all modern essays are written in prose, but works in verse have been dubbed essays (e.g., Alexander Pope's An Essay on Criticism and An Essay on Man).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.