Causerie (from French, "talk, chat") is a literary style of short informal essays mostly unknown in the English-speaking world. A causerie is generally short, light and humorous and is often published as a newspaper column (although it is not defined by its format). Often the causerie is a current-opinion piece, but it contains more verbal acrobatics and humor than a regular opinion or column. In English, causerie is commonly known as "personal story", "funny story" or "column" instead.
The causerie style is characterized by a personal approach to the reader; the writer "babbles" to the reader, from which the term derives. Language jokes, hyperbole, intentional disregard of linguistic and stylistic norms, and other absurd or humorous elements are permitted. For example, in a causerie about a politician, she or he may be placed in an imagined situation. Sentences are usually kept short, avoiding over-explaining, and room is left for the reader to read between the lines.
The content of causerie is not limited and it may be satire, parody, opinion, factual or straight fiction. Causerie is not defined by content or format, but style. Although usually published in a newspaper, many authors have published anthologies.
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- "There is no English equivalent for causerie, which is something less formal, continuous, and pretentious than 'conversation,' something more intellectual, refined, and cultivated than 'talk.' An earnest preoccupied man may converse: an over-excited or coarse-minded man may talk; but neither the one nor the other can causer in the precise French acceptation of the word. Boswell says, 'Though his (Johnson's) usual phrase for conversation was 'talk,' yet he made a distinction; for when he once told me that he dined the day before at a friend's house, with 'a very pretty company,' and I asked him if there was good conversation, he answered, 'No, sir, we had 'talk' but no conversation; there was nothing discussed.' On another occasion, however, when he said there had been good 'talk,' Boswell rejoined, 'Yes, sir, you tossed and gored several persons.' Positiveness, loudness, love of argument and eagerness for display, are fatal to causerie; which we take to consist in the easy, careless, unforced flow of remarks, fancies, feelings, or thoughts, – the results of reading, observation, or reflection [...] In Strictness, therefore, perhaps the title of causeries should only be given to such a book as we should call 'Table-Talk'." — Hayward, Abraham (1873). "Varieties of History and Art." In: Biographical and Critical Essays, Vol., II. London: Longmans, Green & Co., pp. 1–2.
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