‘Self-Reliance’ is an influential 1841 essay by the American writer and thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82). In this essay, Emerson argues that we should get to know our true selves rather than looking to other people to fashion our individual thoughts and ideas for us. Among other things, Emerson’s essay […]
‘The Philosophy of Composition’ is an 1846 essay by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-49). Although he wrote the essay in order to explain how he came to write his hugely successful poem ‘The Raven’, it has become a key non-fiction work – probably the key work – produced by Poe, and […]
‘The Death of the Author’ is an influential 1968 essay by the French literary theorist Roland Barthes. But what does Barthes mean by ‘the death of the author’? This important short essay was crucial in the development of poststructuralist literary theory in the 1970s and 1980s, as many English departments, […]
‘A Defence of Poetry’ is an essay written by the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822). One of the most important prose works of the Romantic era, and a valuable document concerning Shelley’s own poetic approach, the essay is deserving of closer analysis and engagement.
‘The Prevention of Literature’ is perhaps George Orwell’s most famous essay defending freedom of expression. Published in January 1946 in Polemic, the essay sees Orwell calling upon intellectuals of all backgrounds and disciplines to stand up against literary censorship of various kinds.