Montaigne: What do I know?

Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533 – 1592)

Relating to CC201’s study of Montaigne is an article by Liam Julian of The Weekly Standard, discussing the Essays. Here is an extract:

Begun in 1572, the Essays is Montaigne’s 20-year examination of his own life, and not the product of that examination, either, but the examination itself. It contains more than a hundred essays and some half-million words, and discusses idleness, cruelty, experience, philosophy, smells, cannibalism, friendship, education, children, death, sex, happiness, and more through the author’s experiences and ruminations on them. Here Montaigne seeks truth: Que sçais-je?—What do I know?—was his adage. It is through this autobiographical quest for truth, undertaken in part by placing on trial his own actions and beliefs, that Montaigne begins to know himself—and we, his readers, begin to know him, too.

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