The Dialectics of Essayism

Thijs Lijster*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This article argues that our current situation is one that both prevents us from telling ‘grand narratives’ and necessitates us to ‘think big’. This makes the task of the essay today a dialectical one. Following Adorno, the essay is not merely seen as a literary genre but also as a mode of thought that reflects and criticises a particular socio-historical condition. The essayistic mode of thought attempts to reinstate or revive particularity as well as our experience of it, in a world wherein all things appear as a function or exemplar of something else. At the same time, however, and exactly through this intense focus on the particular object or experience, the essay brings to light something universal. This makes the essay the philosophical and aesthetic form par excellence of our current time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-425
Number of pages17
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2024

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