9/13/2009

The Father of Bloggers: Michel de Montaigne




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.


Montaigne links:

link1.

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?

4 comments:

Rob Spence said...

Fascinating- and thanks for reminding me about Kenneth Clarke's Civilization- a fantastic series.

Anonymous said...

anyone interested in Montaigne may also enjoy this new book--

Premature Factulation: The Ignorance of Certainty and the Ghost of Montaigne

author Philip D. Hansten
info at http://www.Philoponus.com/

francessa said...

@Rob: Yes, it is fascinating. Did you know that Montaigne's first language was Latin? His father hired only servants who could speak Latin, as did his German teacher. He was wakened by the sound of music, and so on. His father's educational experiments were quite singular.

Rob, at Youtube there are 65 videos from the Civilization series!

@Anonymous: thanks for the link!

Lydia said...

I love learning from you! I knew only his quotes about cats in several books I have. :0
I do love essays and never considered who began the form. I will read some at the link you provided.
Also, doesn't that book by Hansten sound intriguing?

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