Genre is a French term derived from the Latin genus, generis , meaning "type," "sort," or "kind." It designates the literary form or type into which works are classified according to what they have in common, either in their formal structures or in their treatment of subject matter, or both. The study of genres may be of value in three ways. On the simplest level, grouping works offers us an orderly way to talk about an otherwise bewildering number of literary texts. More importantly, if we recognize the genre of a text, we may also have a better idea of its intended overall structure and/or subject. Finally, a genre approach can deepen our sense of the value of any single text, by allowing us to view it comparatively, alongside many other texts of its type. Classification By Types While the number of genres and their subdivisions has proliferated since classical times, the division of the literary domain into three major genres (by Plato, Aristotle, and, later, Horace), is still useful. These are lyric , drama , and epic , and they are distinguished by "manner of imitation," that is, by how the characters and the action are presented. The chart briefly summarizes the main differences in the way action and characters are presented in the lyric, drama, and the epic.
essay 1590s, "short non-fiction literary composition" (first attested in writings of Francis Bacon, probably in imitation of Montaigne), from . essai "trial, attempt, essay," from . exagium "a weighing, weight," from L. exigere "test," from ex- "out" + agere apparently meaning here "to weigh." The suggestion is of unpolished writing. The more literal verb meaning "to put to proof, test the mettle of" is from late 15c.; this sense has mostly gone with the divergent spelling assay (.). Related: Essayed; essaying. Essayist is from .