In 1580, Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) published a book unique by its title and its content: Essays"R. A literary genre was born. At first sight, the Essays resemble a patchwork of personal reflections, but they engage with questions that animate the human mind, and tend toward a single goal: to live better in the present and to prepare for death. For this reason, Montaigne's thought and writings have been a subject of enduring interest across disciplines. This Handbook brings together essays by prominent scholars that examine Montaigne's literary, philosophical, and political contributions, and assess his legacy and relevance today in a global perspective. The chapters of this Handbook offer a sweeping study of Montaigne across different disciplines and in a global perspective. One section covers the historical Montaigne, situating his thought in his own time and space, notably the Wars of Religion in France. The political, historical and religious context of Montaigne's Essays requires a rigorous presentation to inform the modern reader of the issues and problems that confronted Montaigne and his contemporaries in his own time. In addition to this contextual approach to Montaigne, the Handbook also establishes a connection between Montaigne's writings and issues and problems directly relevant to our modern times, that is to say, our age of global ideology. Montaigne's considerations, or essays, offer a point of departure for the modern reader's own assessments. The Essays analyze what can be broadly defined as human nature, the endless process by which the individual tries to impose opinions upon others through the production of laws, policies or philosophies. Montaigne's motto -- "What do I know?" -- is a simple question yet one of perennial significance. One could argue that reading Montaigne today teaches us that the angle defines the world we see, or, as Montaigne wrote: "What matters is not merely that we see the thing, but how we see it."
One of the most important writers and thinkers of the Renaissance, Michel de Montaigne (1533–92) helped invent a literary genre that seemed more modern than anything that had come before. But did he do it, as he suggests in his Essays, by retreating to his chateau and stoically detaching himself from his violent times? Philippe Desan overturns this long standing myth by showing that Montaigne was constantly connected to and concerned with realizing his political ambitions—and that the literary and philosophical character of the Essays largely depends on them. Desan shows how Montaigne conceived of each edition of the Essays as an indispensable prerequisite to the next stage of his public career. It was only after his political failure that Montaigne took refuge in literature, and even then it was his political experience that enabled him to find the right tone for his genre. The most comprehensive and authoritative biography of Montaigne yet written, this sweeping narrative offers a fascinating new picture of his life and work.
At the heart of Montaigne's Essais lies a political conception of religious tolerance that we have largely forgotten today. In contemporary popular and academic discourse, tolerance of religious and other differences most often appears as an individual ethical disposition or a moral principle of public law. For Montaigne, tolerance is instead a political capacity: the power and ability to negotiate relationships of basic trust and civil peace with one's opponents in political conflict. Contemporary thinkers often argue that what matters most for tolerance is how we talk to our political opponents: with respect, reasonableness, and civility. For Montaigne, what matters most is not how, but rather that we talk to each other across lines of disagreement. In his view, any effective politics of tolerance requires actors with a sufficiently high tolerance for this political activity. Using his own experience negotiating between warring Catholic and Huguenot parties as a model, Montaigne investigates and publicly prescribes a set of skills, capacities, and dispositions that might help his readers to become the kinds of people who can initiate and sustain dialogue with the "other side" to achieve public goods - even when respect, reasonableness, and civility are not yet assured. Montaigne and the Tolerance of Politics argues that this dimension of tolerance is worth recovering and reconsidering in contemporary democratic societies, in which partisan "sorting" and multidimensional polarization has evidently rendered political leaders and ordinary citizens less and less able to talk to each other to resolve political conflicts and to cooperate on matters of common public concern.
The French author Michel de Montaigne is widely regarded as the founder and greatest practitioner of the personal essay. A member of the minor aristocracy, he worked as a judicial investigator, served as mayor of Bordeaux, and sought to bring stability to his war-torn country during the latter half of the sixteenth century. He is best known today, however, as the author of the Essays, a vast collection of meditations on topics ranging from love and sexuality to freedom, learning, doubt, self-scrutiny, and peace of mind. One of the most original books ever to emerge from Europe, Montaigne's masterpiece has been continuously and powerfully influential among writers and philosophers from its first appearance down to the present day. His extraordinary curiosity and discernment, combined with his ability to mix thoughtful judgment with revealing anecdote, make him one of the most readable of all writers. In Montaigne: A Very Short Introduction, William M. Hamlin provides an overview of Montaigne's life, thought, and writing, situating the Essays within the arc of Montaigne's lived experience and focusing on themes of particular interest for contemporary readers. Designed for a broad audience, this introduction will appeal to first-time students of Montaigne as well as to seasoned experts and admirers. Well-informed and lucidly written, Hamlin's book offers an ideal point of entry into the life and work of the world's first and most extraordinary essayist.
Michel de Montaigne (1533-92) is principally known today as a literary figure--the inventor of the modern essay and the pioneer of autobiographical self-exploration who retired from politics in midlife to write his private, philosophical, and apolitical Essais. But, as Biancamaria Fontana argues in Montaigne's Politics, a novel, vivid account of the political meaning of the Essais in the context of Montaigne's life and times, his retirement from the Bordeaux parliament in 1570 "could be said to have marked the beginning, rather than the end, of his public career." He later served as mayor of Bordeaux and advisor to King Henry of Navarre, and, as Fontana argues, Montaigne's Essais very much reflect his ongoing involvement and preoccupation with contemporary politics--particularly the politics of France's civil wars between Catholics and Protestants. Fontana shows that the Essais, although written as a record of Montaigne's personal experiences, do nothing less than set forth the first major critique of France's ancien régime, anticipating the main themes of Enlightenment writers such as Voltaire and Diderot. Challenging the views that Montaigne was politically aloof or evasive, or that he was a conservative skeptic and supporter of absolute monarchy, Fontana explores many of the central political issues in Montaigne's work--the reform of legal institutions, the prospects of religious toleration, the role of public opinion, and the legitimacy of political regimes.
This major two-volume study offers an interdisciplinary analysis of Montaigne's Essais and their fortunes in early modern Europe and the modern western university. Volume One focuses on contexts from within Montaigne's own milieu and on the ways in which his book made him a patron-author or instant classic in the eyes of his editor Marie de Gournay and his promoter Justus Lipsius. Volume Two focuses on the reader/writers across Europe who used the Essais to make their own works, from corrected editions and translations in print, to life-writing and personal records in manuscript. The two volumes work together to offer a new picture of the book's significance in literary and intellectual history. Montaigne's is now usually understood to be the school of late humanism or of Pyrrhonian scepticism. This study argues that the school of Montaigne potentially included everyone in early modern Europe with occasion and means to read and write for themselves and for their friends and family, unconstrained by an official function or scholastic institution. For the Essais were shaped by a battle that had intensified since the Reformation and that would continue through to the pre-Enlightenment period. It was a battle to regulate the educated individual's judgement in reading and acting upon the two books bequeathed by God to man. The book of scriptures and the book of nature were becoming more accessible through print and manuscript cultures. But at the same time that access was being mediated more intensively by teachers such as clerics and humanists, by censors and institutions, by learned authors of past and present, and by commentaries and glosses upon those authors. Montaigne enfranchised the unofficial reader-writer with liberties of judgement offered and taken in the specific historical conditions of his era. The study draws on new ways of approaching literary history through the history of the book and of reading. The Essais are treated as a mobile, transnational work that travelled from Bordeaux to Paris and beyond to markets in other countries from England and Switzerland, to Italy and the Low Countries. Close analysis of editions, paratexts, translations, and annotated copies is informed by a distinct concept of the social context of a text. The concept is derived from anthropologist Alfred Gell's notion of the "art nexus": the specific types of actions and agency relations mediated by works of art understood as "indexes" that give rise to inferences of particular kinds. Throughout the two volumes the focus is on the particular nexus in which a copy, an edition, an extract, is embedded, and on the way that nexus might be described by early modern people.
This volume permits a new approach to Montaigne's essays from the point of view of the art of writing and style. Its particular hermeneutic position, which distinguishes it from other investigations, is that Nietzsche is used as a mediator.
This book rethinks Montaigne’s philosophical thought in terms of transversality by investigating the essayist’s debt to ancient life writers Diogenes Laertius and Plutarch. Its scope is of interest to scholars of ancient and early modern life writing, ancient and early modern philosophy, as well as scholars of early modern literary history.
As one of the 16th century's most brilliant writers, Montaigne formed his ethical self and his eventual theories of physical and spiritual skepticism. Zalloua explores this enlightened thinker's mind. (Literary Criticism)
Compilations, Collections, and the Making of Renaissance Literature
Author: Jeffrey Todd Knight
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
Jeffrey Todd Knight excavates the culture of book collecting and compiling in early modern England, examining how the pervasive practice of mixing texts, authors, and genres into single bindings defined Renaissance ways of thinking and writing.