Recall the essays you had to write in high school?

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Topic sentence, introductory paragraph, supporting paragraphs, conclusion. The final outcome being, say, that Ahab in Moby Dick was a Christ-like figure.

The absolute most obvious distinction between real essays and the things one should write in school is the fact that real essays are not exclusively about English literature. Certainly schools should teach students how exactly to write. But as a result of a number of historical accidents the teaching of writing has gotten mixed together with the study of literature. And so all over the country students are writing not about how exactly a baseball team with a small budget might compete with the Yankees, or the role of color in fashion, or what constitutes a great dessert, but about symbolism in Dickens.

With the total result that writing was created to seem boring and pointless. Who cares about symbolism in Dickens? Dickens himself will be more interested in an essay about baseball or color.

How did things understand this way? To resolve that people need to return back almost a thousand years. Around 1100, Europe at last began to catch its breath after centuries of chaos, as soon as the luxury was had by them of curiosity they rediscovered that which we call “the classics.” The end result was rather as though we had been visited by beings from another solar system. These earlier civilizations were much more sophisticated that for the next several centuries the main work of European scholars, in nearly every field, would be to assimilate whatever they knew.

During this period the study of ancient texts acquired great prestige. (más…)