Montaigne'S Essays

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In 1580, he undertook a journey to Italy, whose main goal was to cure the pain of his kidney stones at thermal resorts.

The journey is related in part by a secretary, in part by Montaigne himself, in a manuscript that was only discovered during the XVIII, and forgotten soon after.

Montaigne's repeated revisions of his text, as modern editions show with the three letters A, B, C, standing for the three main editions, mirror the relationship between the activity of his thought and the If it is true, as Edmund Husserl said, that philosophy is a shared endeavor, Montaigne is perhaps the most exemplary of philosophers since his work extensively borrows and quotes from others.

Montaigne managed to internalize a huge breadth of reading, so that his erudition does not appear as such.

He received the decoration of the Order of Saint-Michel, a distinction all the more exceptional as Montaigne's lineage was from recent nobility.

On the title page of the first edition (1580) of the , we read: “Essais de Messire Michel Seigneur de Montaigne, Chevalier de l'ordre du Roy, & Gentilhomme ordinaire de sa chambre.” Initially keen to show off his titles and, thus, his social standing, Montaigne had the honorifics removed in the second edition (1582).We are unable to detect obvious links from one chapter to the next: in the first book, Montaigne jumps from “ Idleness” (I,8) to “Liars” (I,9), then from “Prompt or slow speech” (I,10) to “Prognostications” (I,11).The random aspect of the work, acknowledged by the author himself, has been a challenge for commentators ever since.Yet, it is also so resistant to interpretation that it reveals the limits of each interpretation.Critical studies of the have, until recently, been mainly of a literary nature.He thought that too much knowledge could prove a burden, preferring to exert his ‘natural judgment’ to displaying his erudition.Montaigne (1533–1592) came from a rich bourgeois family that acquired nobility after his father fought in Italy in the army of King Francis I of France; he came back with the firm intention of bringing refined Italian culture to France.He decorated his Périgord castle in the style of an ancient Roman villa.He also decided that his son would not learn Latin in school.Tired of active life, he retired at the age of only 37 to his father's castle.In the same year, 1571, he was nominated Gentleman of King Charles IX's Ordinary Chamber, and soon thereafter, also of Henri de Navarre's Chamber.


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