What do we mean by “essay”? Before entering into the matter, it is necessary to clear up this genre. In fact, this is a literary genre with well-defined characteristics, partly similar and partly unlike scientific and narrative texts. In order to build a preliminary framework on the subject. First of all, try to answer the following questions:

what is the aim of the author?

To whom is the essay addressed?

Which style of writing is usually employed?


The essay: what kind of text?

The essay is a very special kind of text because features of the scientific and narrative texts coexist. Even if it is not a functional text. Besides analyzes and ideas, it expresses feelings, entertains and tries to persuade. These two souls of the essay give what Wampole appropriately defines “essayfication”. This concept encompasses writings of various kinds all intended to serve as witnesses and placed halfway between the narrative and the scientific text.

Aldous Huxley provides an authoritative analysis of the great variability of the essay genre, partly narrative and partly of a scientific nature. According to her Three-pole frame of reference, each essay would be more oriented towards a personal and autobiographical pole, an objective and factual pole linked to the particular or an abstract and universal pole.

Even without the use of such subtle classifications, we can limit the use of narrative techniques such as the construction of a plot and the use of transitions and, at the same time, of techniques of scientific writing such as the analysis of a specific theme and the argumentation of the proposed theses.


But what about dealing with essay translation and non-fiction works?

Anglophones perform a macro-distinction between two genres: fiction and non-fiction.

Two basic categories to indicate two forms of writing, novels and tales on one side and essays and manuals on the other. Fantasy works against scientific works, which are based on real facts. This traditional classification suggests a dichotomy between what is mere entertainment and evasion and what is deeper into reality.

The new advent of editorial translation is born from the ability to perceive in what direction the non-fiction literature is going and works that tomorrow will be called “literary works” are taking new paths. On the other hand, the story of the evolution of the novel (novelty), proves the growth of a hybrid, which starts from enormous documentation and then transforms authentic material into literary invention.



  • Huxley, Collected Essays, Preface.
  • Osimo, La traduzione saggistica dall’inglese. Guida pratica con versioni guidate e glossario,Milano, Ulrico Hoepli Editore S.p.A
  • See D. Shields, Hunger for Reality: A poster, Translation by Marco Rossari, Collana le Terre, De Fazi Publisher, 2010.
  • Wampole in an article published in La Repubblica, 7/7/ 2013