Author: Brian Dillon
13 × 19.5 cm
Price: 78 lei
Imagine a type of writing so hard to define its very name means a trial, effort or attempt. An ancient form with an eye on the future, a genre poised between tradition and experiment. The essay wants above all to wander, but also to arrive at symmetry and wholeness; it nurses competing urges to integrity and disarray, perfection and fragmentation, confession and invention.
How to write about essays and essayists while staying true to these contradictions? Essayism is a personal, critical and polemical book about the genre, its history and contemporary possibilities. It’s an example of what it describes: an essay that is curious and digressive, exacting yet evasive, a form that would instruct, seduce and mystify in equal measure. Among the essayists to whom he pays tribute – from Virginia Woolf to Georges Perec, Joan Didion to Sir Thomas Browne – Brian Dillon discovers a path back into his own life as a reader, and out of melancholia to a new sense of writing as adventure.
‘It’s short, digressive, teasing, dilettantish, circular, and it reads like some delicate, wandering combination of Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida and E. M. Cioran’s longer aphorisms. ... As [Dillon] examines his examples of essayism, and steadily reveals more of himself, so his own work joins those cherished selections, enacting in sentence after fine sentence the theory it modestly abjured.’
— James Wood, New Yorker
‘[W]ritten in lucid, exacting and unsentimental prose, Essayism is a vital book for people who turn to art – and especially writing – for consolation.’
— Lauren Elkin, Guardian
‘A human brain stewed in the pits and pleasures of language is one committed to glorious and erudite disarray. A brain in love with the beauty of broad systems as equally as the algebraic minutiae of detail will move, like a carpenter, between hopeless wasted fragments and those startlingly hewn lattices of logic that launch ideas like spores in the wind. Dillon champions this gymnastic brain, and his own, here in Essayism, embodies the long shadows and descriptive delicacies of many essayist masters: it is a searing and addictive voice, ambitious to probe all corners of this condition called writing.’
— Helen Marten, winner of 2016 Turner Prize