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An essay is, generally, a piece of writing that gives the author's own argument — but the definition is vague, overlapping with those of a paper, an article, a pamphlet, and a short story.Essays have traditionally been sub-classified as formal and informal.
He notes that "the essay is a literary device for saying almost everything about almost anything", and adds that "by tradition, almost by definition, the essay is a short piece".
Zuihitsu have existed since almost the beginnings of Japanese literature.
Many of the most noted early works of Japanese literature are in this genre. 1000), by court lady Sei Shōnagon, and Tsurezuregusa (1330), by particularly renowned Japanese Buddhist monk Yoshida Kenkō.
English essayists included Robert Burton (1577–1641) and Sir Thomas Browne (1605–1682).
In France, Michel de Montaigne's three volume Essais in the mid 1500s contain over 100 examples widely regarded as the predecessor of the modern essay.