– PREFACE –
We should remember that the English essay possesses above all a personal impulse and an individual voice. It is not journalism, as such, nor is it scholarship as such. As one of the judges of the William Hazlitt Essay Prize has remarked: ‘It is a form which balances the claims of intellect and emotion, or holds them in tension. This is its unique asset.’
In many ways the present is an opportune moment to return to the true meaning of essayism. At a time when words are tumbling, cascading, flooding over the printed or electronic page, filling newspapers, libraries and airwaves, the essay will survive and flourish – even if the book is under threat – because of its flexibility, but also on condition that it remembers its glorious past. As witness the winning entries in this competition.
Our publishing house, Notting Hill Editions, will always attend to what we believe to be the ‘classical essay’. That is to say, a literary form expressing an original and universal idea in a language common to us all.