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Montaign’s Essays Essay, Research Paper

This book called Selected Essays is just what the title tells it to be. It is a group of selected essays written by a medieval French philosopher named Michel de Montaigne. The essays are of course translated but as the ideas are Montaigne s I don t feel it necessary to share the translator s name. I would like to expand on the idea of how extensively Montaigne s life differs from that of today s average person and also how that difference in lifestyle and time greatly influenced his opinions on certain subjects. Another idea I would like to develop is of how the style of writing they used differs from the style of writing used by contemporary authors today.

Montaigne was born on February 28, 1533 right smack dab in the middle of what most people refer to as the Middle Ages. Now the times in which he grew up were very different from what we would now experience, for instance surfs (peasants) were little better than slaves, women were looked upon as property and male children were sent to other peoples homes to be raised. Montaigne himself had quite a unique education, being such that Latin was his first language and he was allowed to read whatever he pleased and was not confined to only what his tutor thought appropriate. His opinions on many subjects were greatly affected by these circumstances. He, as did most men of this time period, felt that women were objects designed only to bear children and direct the servants of the house. His opinions on children were unique in that he felt a great need for education of a greater sort and not just literacy although he felt that important also. He believes that a male child should learn to cope with much cold, fight, and show sympathy for suffering.

The writing style used in Montaigne s time is quite different from the style of which we use today. They start on one subject and end on quite another, for instance should you read an essay today on the education of children you would expect it to stay at least somewhat on the subject of the education of children. I n Montaigne s essay Of the Education of Children he traverses into subjects such as hiding ones true self, traveling to other countries, a mans soul and many other things while every once in a while returning to the original subject of the education of children. It is more like having a conversation than reading an essay. He starts on one subject and transgresses into many of which he sometimes returns to and sometimes leaves as is.

In truth I enjoyed the book as it was intellectually stimulating and kept me thinking and analyzing my own opinions on the subject of which he speaks. I found that while I did not always agree with what he was saying the essays were well written and every opinion was well supported. I would have to say that only people who enjoy thinking deeply should even bother to undertake this book. Anyone else would most definitely be utterly bored by it.


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