Popularity Of Periodical Essay

Wonderful essays continued to be written—by gifted new writers such as Charles Lamb and by others who perpetuated the stylistic and topical qualities that had made the periodical essay so important.But such essays came to readers as preformed collections in bookshops or lending libraries, rather than as segments of discourse delivered to readers as a regular feature of their daily lives.

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Ultimately, the form evolved in ways that integrated it into the general conventions of literary publication; that is, the essay series was continued until sufficient numbers had been published to make up two- or four-volume sets.

In 1764, when William King published as The Dreamer a group of essays (infused with all the qualities of the periodical essay form) which had never been published serially, the serial form may be said to have reached historical closure.

The second development was the rise of the informal essay at the same time, undoubtedly influenced by the writings of Montaigne as well as by the recognition that particular kinds of prose style might be more appropriate to some discourses than to others.

Popularity Of Periodical Essay Essays On Social Media

Ephraim Chambers’ entry on the essay in his Cyclopaedia (1728) refers to “sudden, occasional Reflexions, which are to be wrote much at the Rate, and in the Manner a Man thinks…” A third factor contributing to the popularity of this form was the 18th-century fondness for pseudonymous writing—the adoption of fictitious personae appropriate to the expression of particular views.

By the time it occurred to them to use these two words to describe the form of publication in which they were engaged, serial essays which shared a number of characteristics with the Connoisseur had been published (in England especially) for half a century.

So numerous were these serials, so persistent a feature of the reading diet of people throughout English society during nearly the entire century, and so natural did it seem to an 18th-century author to develop a periodical essay series or at least to contribute a paper or two to a series established by another writer, that any discussion of the periodical essay is most appropriately situated in this period.

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