I write to keep from going mad from the contradictions I find among mankind - and to work some of those contradictions out for myself.
That's a quote by the French nobleman and writer Michel de Montaigne who died on September 13, 1592.
On February 28, 1571, his 38th birthday, he retired from all public duties, retreated into the tower of his family's castle und began to write. His intention was to spend the second half of his life looking at himself.
The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.
Within the next twenty years he produced his famous "essais", and thus inventend a new literary form. The essays cover a wide range of topics, from theological and philosophical questions to very trivial ones. Titles are "of Age, of Custom, of Vanity, of Glory, of Thumbs, of Repentence", and more.
He left his tower only for a year of traveling to Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy, mainly to seek a cure for his kidney disease. He kept a detailed journal recording various episodes and regional differences, which was interesting to read, as I know a lot of the areas he writes about.
Michel de Montaigne died at the age of 59.
I've always found great pleasure in reading Montaignes essays. After more than 400 years, so many of his observations still sound true and timeless.
Youtube-Video on Montaigne.
You can read more than 50 of his essays at the Quotidiana and at the Project Gutenberg.
Montaigne seems to have been well acquainted with cats, too:
When I play with my cat, who knows whether she isn't amusing herself with me more than I am with her?