Monday, May 20, 2024

'The Pure Essay'

“A good deal that he wrote took the form of the ‘pure’ essay, written, as Lord David Cecil says, ‘not to instruct or edify but only to produce aesthetic satisfaction.’ I do not know why it should be so, but today the ‘pure’ essay is a literary genre to which no reader under sixty can bring himself to attend. We expect an essay to instruct or edify; for aesthetic satisfaction we turn to poetry or fiction.” 

--W.H. Auden in “One of the Family,” his 1965 review of Lord David Cecil’s Max, collected in Forewords and Afterwords (1973). Max Beerbohm died on the date, May 20, in 1956 at age eighty-three.

No comments: