In Essayism, his 2017 critical lyrical essay (inevitably) on the essay as genre, Brian Dillon opens with a kind of textual performance: a teeming list of examples, oblique references to unnamed essayists, a litany of topics and a profusion of content, discursive, paratactic and contradictory. This performs, Dillon observes, something of the effect that the term ‘essay’ denotes: ‘Imagine a type of writing so hard to define that its very name should be something like: an effort, an attempt, a trial’ (2017, 12). Essays can be partial and contingent, doubtful or incomplete and these qualities are values. ‘What holds these tendencies together? Classically, we say it is the writing “I” ' (Dillon 2017, 18)...
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