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Montaigne, Michel de

Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533–1592) was a French humanist philosopher who drew on his own experiences and ideas in his informal musings, called Essays, a genre he is said to have invented (the French term essais means “trials” or “efforts”). A diplomat and official during much of his life (for a time, he was mayor of Bordeaux), he devoted his later years to writing. The first volume of his work appeared in 1580, and two more volumes were published in 1588. (An amended edition that includes notations made prior to his death was published posthumously.)

Montaigne was a supple and skeptical thinker whose ideas influenced philosophers from René Descartes to Claude Levi-Strauss. He was also a brilliant writer, praised by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Virginia ...

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