Berghahn Books

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Receptions of the Essais

Dudley M. Marchi

Montaigne is one of the most cross-cultural writers ever - both in the assimilation of writings from other cultures into his own work and in the subsequent translations, critical receptions, and creative adaptations of the Essais by other writers throughout the world for the last four hundred years.  His work is generally considered as exemplary of the European Renaissance, yet also demonstrates a remarkable relevance to the literary and intellectual activity of the present day.  Whereas there has always been an abundance of commentary on Montaigne's work, much less attention has been paid to his influence on writers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, particularly to those outside of France.

This study redresses the balance.  By establishing a stylistic and ideological relationship between Montaigne's work and that of such writers as Emerson, Nietzsche, Pater, Woolf, and Sollers, it both provides a greater appreciation of the richness of the Essais, and identifies some of the roots of modernist and postmodernist writing.

Contents: Preface; Introduction; Receptions of the Essais: Beginnings and Continuities; Emerson and Nietszche: Between Tradition and Innovation;  Pater and Woolf: A Modernist Renaissance?; Conclusions: Montaigne among the Postmoderns.

" . . . an original book that attempts and succeeds in understanding the ideas of modernity from the reworkings of Montaigne's Essais."
        Philippe Desan, University of Chicago

" . . . a most significant contribution to Montaigne studies . . . thoroughly researched, well conceived and composed . . . which will reach out and be of interest to a wider audience than scholars and students of French thought and culture." Marcel Tetel, Duke University

"Serious students of Montaigne should find Marchi's insightful analysis a rewarding revelation." Choice

 " . . . a significant intertextual contribution to our knowledge of the practice of the Essais in the modern and postmodern worlds which will continue to serve for some time as a rich source for future work in these areas." Philosophy and Literature

352 pages, bibliography, index
ISBN 1-57181-007-2

Library of Congress Catalogue: 94-29461

Readership: Literature/Philosophy/History