Western Literature^2 lesson 25

“Now that I have finished the section Montaigne, would I read any more of his essays? Why or why not?”

Michel de Montaigne, who lived from 1533 to 1592, was a significant philosopher in French Renaissance. The unique writing style that he created, called the essay, would go on to influence famous writers all over the world. However, when he poured out his thoughts onto the pages of his essays, there was no shortage of literary error, which makes me disinclined to read more of his work without provocation.

To state it simply, I would not read more of Montaigne’s writing. The information is broken and unorganized, making any possibility of truly enjoying his work impossible. For instance, when discussing idleness, he begins talking about how people with bad memories should never lie, and states, “When they disguise and often alter the same story, according to their own fancy, ‘tis very hard for them, at one time or another, to escape being trapped, by reason that the real truth of the ting, having first taken possession of the memory, and being there lodged, impressed by the medium of knowledge and science, it will be difficult that it should not represent itself to the imagination, and shoulder out falsehood, which cannot have there so sure and settled footing as the other; and the circumstances of the first true knowledge ever more running in their minds, will be apt to make them forget those that are illegitimate, and only, forged by their own fancy.” First of all, what does this have to do with idleness, and secondly, can you even follow the story? Because I cannot. The sentences ramble on and are packed with unnecessary explanations of simple turns of phrase. Another tidbit that endangers the enjoyableness of Montaigne’s essays are the addition of Latin quotes everywhere that are not referenced nor translated. The only way anybody knows what these quotes mean is if some sort of editor translates them for you in your particular edition of Essais. Sometimes he uses these quotes to make a point. How useful are they if you can’t understand them?!

Even though I would not read more of Montaigne’s essays, he ended up creating a new writing style that is very important in modern communication! After a bit of definition and stylistic tweaks, Montaigne’s creation is now used by every high schooler.

One thought on “Western Literature^2 lesson 25

  1. Allison

    I think your essay is very well written and to the point. Your style of writing is very smooth and eloquent which makes the essay have more authority in my opinion. The only part that I had trouble with was the part when you quoted Montaigne, I really got lost there…but after re-reading it I figured it out. :)

    Nice work!


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