An Essay Defending Essays

“It is an article of the most unshakable faith that the personal, familiar, Montaignian – call it what you will – essay is minor stuff, a second-rate employment undertaken by bankrupt novelists and other failures. In literary rankings its place lay well below the novella and scarcely above the book review. Indeed, the personal essay’s most esteemed and acclaimed practitioners have to a man voiced misgivings about their trade.” And yet, is it true that “there are no second-rate genres, “only second-rate practitioners?”