Winter 1982 • Vol. IV No. 1 NonfictionJanuary 1, 1982 |

On Thinking about Oneself

In his Essais, Montaigne describes himself by a language which will not yield to a discrimination of tenses. "I have not made my book more than my book has made me," he insists. As Frederick Rider writes, there is a "disparity between his exaggerated modesty and his pretended frankness"1 deriving from his disciplined emulation of the sprezzatura style, a casual "aristocratic nonchalance" evident in greater and greater density the more he rewrote his essays. Montaigne was forty-seven when he completed the first of four editions in 1580. As he revised them he relaxed the seriousness of his first effort, claiming for his soul a greater flamboyance, honing with religious unpredictability a whimsical phraseology of bodily attributes, an anarchistic climate of virility and pun-emission his life was lacking. Here was the essence of his countering method, a vogue calculated to reveal personal particulars inadvertently via a fanfare of gestures, witty braggadocio, and effigiation by which wa

Already have an account? Login

Join KR for even more to read.

Register for a free account to read five free pieces a month from our current issue and digital archive.
Register for Free and Read This Piece



Or become a subscriber today and get complete, immediate access to our digital archives at every subscription level.

Read More

Sinai

By Michael Tobias

In his Essais, Montaigne describes himself by a language which will not yield to a discrimination of tenses. "I have not made my book more than my book has made […]

Subscribe

Your free registration with Kenyon review incudes access to exclusive content, early access to program registration, and more.

Donate

With your support, we’ll continue 
to cultivate talent and publish extraordinary literature from diverse voices around the world.