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What?

This website is a journal of sorts, not unlike

Michel de Montaigne’s Complete Essays. 

Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, also known as Lord of Montaigne, was one of

the most significant philosophers of the French Renaissance, known for popularizing the essay as a literary genre. His work is noted for its merging of casual anecdotes and autobiography with intellectual insight. 

Born: February 28, 1533, Château de Montaigne

Died: September 13, 1592, Château de Montaigne

InfluencedRené DescartesJean-Jacques RousseauMORE

EducationCollege of GuienneUniversity of Toulouse

It seems like everyone at some point stumbles across Montaigne. You don’t read Montaigne in high school, or in college, or in casual references in the media. Reading Montaigne is like drinking coffee; you can get it at Dunkin'® Donuts, Starbucks™ or Whole Foods©, or you can brew your own — Pour Over/Drip: Chemex®; Plunger/Press: French Press; Percolate/Stovetop:

Moka PotVacuum: Siphon; (and many more).

By the way, Dunkin'® is a coffee company, not a donut company. Doughnuts are apparently a garnish. My personal favorite is an apple fritter, clocking in at 510 calories. But that is another essay.

Coffee?

Coffee can be: tall or short; hot or cold; black or blond (I take coffee in my milk); caffeinated or decaffeinated; brewed or instant; whole or ground; or simple or complex (at the same time). Montaigne’s essays are the same. You don’t need to know anything to drink coffee; connoisseurs pour over every drop.

  

Montaigne?

Montaigne can be: long or short; personal or impersonal; original French or the Charles Cotton (1685–6) English translation (later edited by William Carew Hazlitt in 1877); first, second, third, fourth or fifth edition; aristocratic or common; a single entry or all 107 chapters; or simple or complex (at the same time). You don’t need to know anything to read Montaigne, but knowing something helps: 

The Author to the Reader,

 

Reader, thou hast here an honest book; it doth at the outset forewarn thee that, in contriving the same, I have proposed to myself no other than a domestic and private end: I have had no consideration at all either to thy service or to my glory. My powers are not capable of any such design. I have dedicated it to the particular commodity of my kinsfolk and friends, so that, having lost me (which they must do shortly), they may therein recover some traits of my conditions and humours, and by that means preserve more whole, and more life-like, the knowledge they had of me. Had my intention been to seek the world’s favour, I should surely have adorned myself with borrowed beauties: I desire therein to be viewed as I appear in mine own genuine, simple, and ordinary manner, without study and artifice: for it is myself I paint. My defects are therein to be read to the life, and any imperfections and my natural form, so far as public reverence hath permitted me. If I had lived among those nations, which (they say) yet dwell under the sweet liberty of nature’s primitive laws, I assure thee I would most willingly have painted myself quite fully and quite naked. Thus, reader, myself am the matter of my book: there’s no reason thou shouldst employ thy leisure about so frivolous and vain a subject. Therefore farewell.

 

— From Montaigne, the 12th June 1580

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