Some of the conditions the literary essay needs to fulfill are variety and a free selection of themes. The literary subject is more of a form problem than a depth problem.
Montaigne’s essays established the genre’s autonomy, and many times they derive from literary quotes, readings and works, but they also present many other themes motivated by the observation of customs, human behavior and vital experience. The literary essay can be defined beginning with the ideas encompassed in many disciplines like morality, science, philosophy, history and politics, which create a free and dynamic reading. In the essay, the author captures his ideas and thoughts about life; it is and should be personal, subjective: a vision from the writer’s own mind.
The essay is, by definition, a provocative concept that invites one to violate aesthetics and moral norms. Journalists say that people make essays every day as an informative note about reality. The essay is the quintessential critical product. On the other hand, philosophers defend the essay as a real form of expression of philosophical manifestations, calling it a treatise, discourse or retort. So, the essay can’t be boxed into only one concept, because the different disciplines adjust it according to their own needs, and use instruments to defend their genre.
One of the frontiers between science and poetry is in the essay. It’s been known as the “literary-scientific” genre because it strays from scientific reasoning with its artistic imagination. The scientific creation has roots, like poetry, in the imaginative capacity, and it can’t be completely ignored. However, it doesn’t stray far from nature or logic. The essay shares one of its essential purposes with science: deeply exploring reality, approximating the “truth” of things. It shares originality, intensity and expressive beauty with art.
There’s not really a defined style for essays. There are many styles, according to the author’s personality. But, there is one essential condition they must all meet: clarity of expression, the transparency that can help the reader get a better understanding of the authenticity of the thoughts captured by the essayist.