Short Story vs. Essay

Difference Between Short Story And Essay

Short Story

In the broadest sense the short story is a prose narrative that can be told or read on a single occasion. From this point of view it is the oldest form of prose fiction, whose antecedents include parables, folktales, and fables. The short story was consciously developed as an art form only in the 19th century. Edgar Allan Poe was the first to define the genre formally (1842); he called it an artistic composition controlled to produce a single unified effect. At the same time, it gained a large audience from the newspapers and periodicals in which many of the stories were first published.

Essay

Essay, any relatively brief literary composition on a restricted topic. It is one of the principal divisions of literature—along with poetry, drama, and fiction.

The essay as a literary genre is very broad, covering many subforms, a wide range of subjects, and a variety of styles. The essay, an artistically wrought and imaginatively developed work of nonfiction, may reveal an author’s personality, express his speculations on life or events, or make a formal statement about his attitude toward a precise, objective subject.

Attempts to classify the types of essays have had only limited success, for a literary mode as protean as the essay can assume an almost endless number of forms. There are two principal kinds of essays: formal and informal. Informal essays are brief, discursive, highly personal and individual statements that are conversational in tone and loose in structure. Formal essays are longer, more tightly organized expositions of personal opinions or attitudes on specific and impersonal subjects. Sharper distinctions than these are arbitrary and usually deal more with subject matter or style than with literary form. Often, but by no means always, the informal essay is considered the only one that may be regarded as a truly literary type.

 

 

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