So, I received this book from my grandfather this past Christmas and haven’t really had a chance to look at it. Now, I have no idea who this man is, and the introduction to the book (so far) is a lot of ass kissing and repetitive praise without really telling me who Montaigne is. So I took to the internet to answer my questions.
Evidently, Mongtaigne (whose name is Michel de Montaigne) is the man who popularized the essay as a literary genre. He was able to combine his essays with a little bit of autobiography and is known as the father of skepticism (or something like that). It amuses me that his tendency to veer off into anecdotes was considered a negative and not very proper, but to me, that just sounds delightful. It sounds like reading a book by my grandfather, who begins talking about a concept and then continues with, “that reminds me of a time…”
I did pick up a quote that interested me on the first page of the introduction:
“When he started his book, he had lost a dear friend, Etienne de La Boetie, to whom he had been able to express, as he never could to any one person again, his every thought, view, and feeling. Self-sufficient though he was, he had an imperious need to communicate. The Essays are his means of communication; the reader takes the place of his dead friend.”
This provides some much needed context for these essays, and it also reveals a style of writing that I can totally get behind. It’s an extremely easy way of writing and conveying a thought, and it tends to be how I choose to write. You know… just talk (but maybe I’m missing the point; what do I know I haven’t read the book yet).
So, I’m interested to see what this book has to say, and I’m just going to power through this intro, hope is has something educational to say, and then get to the essays!