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(1) E.V. Lucas (1868-1938):

Among the 20th century essayists, Lucas is one who is generally regarded as the true inheritor of the manner of Lamb. He is one of the most prolific essayists of our age. He worked long as a journalist and contributed mostly to the Punch. His most representative and popular collection of essays is entitled The Character and Comedy (1907).

Lacus has followed in the footsteps of Lamb. He has Lamb’s humanity, his all-embracing sympathy, his humor and whimsicality and his confidential tone, as well as his pensive yearning for the beauty and charm of the old things and personalities. But he has wisely eschewed the many extravagances of Lamb as well as his many mannerisms of style. He has the virtues of Lamb without his faults.

Lucas has displayed a remarkable accurate power of observation and an equally remarkable capacity for discovering beauty and mystery in the commonplace things and objects of life. Edmund Gosse, in his brief article on “The Essays of Mr. Lucas”, has observed; “The essay does not achieve genuine success unless it is written in the language spoken today by those who employ it with the maximum of purity and grace. It should be a model of current, cultivated ease of expression and a mirror of the best conversation.

The essays of Mr. Lucas fulfill this requirement.” Lucas writes a pure, chaste, lucid and clear prose, which has effortless ease, spontaneity, conciseness and compactness. He is one of those essayists who have fully exploited the poetic possibilities of English prose to describe the beauty and glory of the familiar and the common.

(2) G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936):

He is writer of versatile genius and his essays reveal,” an extraordinary range of mind; there was no subject on which he could not have found something original, and if possible challenging, to say, from the fundamental basis of morals to the proper way of eating cheese. And on each page, of course, is the hard-hitting power of his style. He is eloquent, provocative, splendidly graphic and admirably humorous.

Originality and ingenuity in thought and approach are the leading characteristics of his essays. Often he makes use of witty paradox which delights and surprises as well as provokes thought.

His style is highly brilliant, self-conscious and idiosyncratic, replete with alliteration, balance, antithesis and paradox. He constructs his sentences with great ingenuity, which offers a constant challenge to the reader and at times have an air of verbal, if not intellectual, puzzle. The Uses of Diversity; Tremendous Trifles, etc., are among the more popular of his collections of essays.

(3) Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953)

He is another versatile and prolific essayist of the 20th century. His reputation as an essayist rests securely on several volumes, a few among which are entitled as Something, Nothing, And Everything.

Belloc himself observes, and also makes his readers observe, novelty in the real and familiar things of everyday life, and he also presents the hackneyed problems so concretely and cleverly as to charge them with an altogether new significance. His range of mood, theme, and subject is very wide.

He can be playful and garrulous as in his essay on “Cheese”, but he can be tenderly, even lyrically, emotional as in “The Good Woman”, and between these he can play on all possible shades and gradations.

In his prose style, it is his transparent clarity which strikes our attention most immediately. He is a master at once of the simple, chaste, direct and homely manner, relying mostly on familiar word and precise epithets, on sentences which are generally simply and brief and which follow each other in quick succession, and have an artless pattern and rhythmical effect; and also on the grand sonorous prose which generally comes at the crucial moments when emotion rises to a higher pitch. His rapidity of movement from one mood to another in the same essay is remarkable.

(4) A.G. Gardiner (1865-1946):

He was a journalist and essayist of the school of Montaigne and Lamb. He is better known to his readers by his pen name Alpha of the Plough, which he adopted in response to the invitation of the editor of the Star to which he contributed a number of his essays.

He was a prolific essayist and his best collections of essays are entitled The Pillars of Society, Pebbles on the Shore, Leaves in the Wind, etc. He brings out the significance of the most trivial things and communicates knowledge and wisdom in an entirely informal, modest, intimate and delightful manner. Herein lies the secret of Gardiner’s greatness as a personal essayist.

Gardiner’s style is easy, clear, lucid and flexible. He modulates his prose to his changing moods, chatty, reflective, enthusiastic and observant. His vocabulary is drawn from the common everyday speech and his language is dignified and yet mostly within the comprehension even of the moderately read readers. “But when he has to render his impressions of the beauty, mystery and sublimity of nature his words are clothed with beauty, colour and picturesqueness, the sentences have amplitude and rhythm and the images become more frequent, vivid and of refreshing charm and grace.”

He has no mannerism, no trace of any effort to be striking, yet he always selects the precise and vivid world and uses it with the most telling effect. He is one of the greatest stylists in the English language.

(5) Robert Lynd (1879-1949):

He followed in the footsteps of Lamb, Stevenson and Goldsmith. A large range and variety of mood and emotion is possible for him. He may be light-hearted, humorous, whimsical and amusingly philosophical, reflective, retrospective and frankly personal and autobiographical.

For Lynd, as for any genuine essayist any subject, is a good enough peg to hang his personal thoughts, reflections, humours and emotions on. He has always something delightful and thought-provoking to say, but more important than what he says, is the manner of saying it. In his essays, it is manner of saying things which constitutes the man charm.

His style has all the ease, range and liveliness of conversation. An effortless ease and a natural flow of words are the distinguishing features of his style. The language is equally beautiful and dignified throughout; it has no purple patches, no heightening of colour. “Its colours meet and blend together to producer that unity of tone and atmosphere which is the soul of a true essay as much as of a lyric.”

(6) Max Beerbohm (1872-1956)

He was who won wide popularity by his Zulia Boson (1911) was delightful essayist and witty parodist, who was never tired of exposing the follies and fables of his great contemporaries. Commenting on his achievement as an essayist, A C. Ward writes: “Max Beerbohm brushes lightly, delicately, wittily over the surface of life, with great tenderness for all that he has enjoyed and unfailing humour.

In his observations and in his style, there is “nothing too much”, but there is always just enough. In an age of hurry he never hurried; in a machine age he preserved in his writings and drawings the delicate craft work of a more leisured endless strenuous time; in an age when most people could write moderately well, but few had anything to write about, he was perfect both in manner and matter.”

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