Belletristic Essay

Nearly all of our life so passes nearly all the time (and thank goodness, lest we all be psychological basket cases).Shall we not find fascination in the earth's daily doings?Sometimes this device works magnificently, as in his moving essay "Cordelia's Dilemma," which moves from the silence of Lear's daughter to a defense of the importance of negative results in research.

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His most powerful essays, however, extend from a deeper core: outrage (concerning a great scientist who became a shill for the tobacco industry), grief and guilt (over the connection between Nazism and Darwinism), loss (the nerdy child's passion for dusty museums).

"Cordelia's Dilemma" derives its resonance from issues of autobiographical centrality: Mr.

Putting aside questions of literary merit for the moment, I know of no other living essayist who has sustained such a remarkable production. Gould, who is also a professor of zoology and geology at Harvard, clearly has a fiercely focused energy to go along with his brilliant mind and impressive range."Dinosaur in a Haystack," his seventh collection, is fully the equal of previous, well-received volumes like "The Panda's Thumb" and "Bully for Brontosaurus." It begins, significantly, by citing "Michel de Montaigne, traditional founder of the essay as a literary genre," which suggests that Mr.

By his own definition, the scientist Stephen Jay Gould is "an essay machine." Since 1974 he has been churning out one a month for Natural History magazine, as well as lengthy pieces for other publications -- more than 230 essays, by his count.

Gould introduces what he calls "the 'main event' of my early career," his proposal (with Niles Eldredge) of the theory of punctuated equilibrium.

This theory argued that evolution is not steady and gradual; rather, nothing happens for long periods of time, then bursts of rapid change occur. Gould cogently draws out the larger implications of this idea:"How can we interest ourselves sufficiently in the ordinary and the quotidian?Gould's cross-referencing, the parenthetical directions to consult this or that essay in the book for further treatment, as though not trusting readers to make thematic connections on their own.And there is something obsessive about his repeated use of certain quotes by Freud and Darwin, his lucky-charm statement that he is "a tradesman, not a polymath" and his caveat that "evolution, as I always say, no doubt to the point of readers' boredom, is a copiously branching bush, not a ladder." These repetitions suggest a mind as mechanically reactive in certain areas of expression as it is flexible in the pursuit of new ideas. Gould's essayistic productivity lies precisely in the trust he puts in certain familiar compositional strategies, pet phrases and quotations to get him going.These procedures as described may be in advance of contemporary science, but they still fall within the realm of near-future possibilities.Likewise, in , that seminal science-fiction writer’s exploration of the borderlands between humanity and other species. Moreau create humanoid creatures from animals through painful operations, Crichton’s characters employ more believable twenty-first century science involving DNA and gene splicing.Many reviewers and even ardent fans of his work have assumed that Crichton’s principal concern is with the dangers of science run amok, as is the case with Shelley in .However, although Shelley was indeed concerned with scientific inquiry and invention going so far as to be dangerous and dehumanizing, Crichton is more specific: His fiction addresses the dangers posed by science when it is corrupted by outside influences, most commonly business, the government and military, and popular media.The Andromeda Strain The first novel published under Crichton’s own name—and his first work that was not a conventional murder mystery— in the 1990’s Crichton’s most widely read book.In it, we see at the inception of his career as a best-selling science-fiction/thriller writer the themes and techniques that he used most consistently throughout his life.A chief importance of Crichton in popular American fiction of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, however, is his adroit manipulation of science-fiction texts, as he boldly rewrote and reenvisioned the more far-fetched and fanciful stories of classic fantastic novels and films within a framework of straightforward “hard” science as he perceived it as a working scientist.As such, Crichton rivals Stephen King as the foremost “pop” practitioner of metafiction (fiction addressing the reading and writing of fiction) and intertextuality (text addressing other texts), trends in literature usually associated with belletristic, “highbrow” writers.


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    Phillips' essay appears in the fifty-fifth anniversary issue of The Hudson Review, a magazine outside of academia whose chief readership is not definitively academic. This story-within-an-essay-within-an-essay serves as a metaphor for belletristic writing in literary journals.…

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    In its broadest sense, the term belles-lettres from the French, literally "fine letters" can refer to any literary work. More particularly, the term "is now generally applied when used at all to the lighter branches of literature" The Oxford English Dictionary, 1989. Until recently, belles-lettres has similarly been used as a synonym for the familiar essay.…

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