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A photographic essay covers a topic with a linked series of photographs that may have accompanying text or captions.
The concept of an "essay" has been extended to other media beyond writing.
A film essay is a movie that often incorporates documentary filmmaking styles and focuses more on the evolution of a theme or idea.
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.
In Italy, Baldassare Castiglione wrote about courtly manners in his essay Il Cortigiano.
In the 17th century, the Jesuit Baltasar Gracián wrote about the theme of wisdom.
Inspired in particular by the works of Plutarch, a translation of whose Œuvres Morales (Moral works) into French had just been published by Jacques Amyot, Montaigne began to compose his essays in 1572; the first edition, entitled Essais, was published in two volumes in 1580.
For the rest of his life, he continued revising previously published essays and composing new ones.
In English essay first meant "a trial" or "an attempt", and this is still an alternative meaning.
The Frenchman Michel de Montaigne (1533–1592) was the first author to describe his work as essays; he used the term to characterize these as "attempts" to put his thoughts into writing, and his essays grew out of his commonplacing.