citation dissertation montaigne

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  • Michel De Montaigne
  • Citations de Michel De Montaigne

165 citations

Citation eduquer & allumer.

Éduquer, ce n'est pas remplir des vases mais c'est allumer des feux

Michel de Montaigne

Citation Homme & Vain

C'est un sujet merveilleusement vain, divers et ondoyant que l'homme.

Citation Vie & Moins

Si la vie n'est qu'un passage, sur ce passage au moins semons des fleurs.

Citation Sagesse & Folie

La plus subtile folie se fait de la plus subtile sagesse.

Citation Souffrir & Souffre

Qui craint de souffrir, il souffre déjà ce qu'il craint.

Citation Autrui & Voyager

Il faut voyager pour frotter et limer sa cervelle contre celle d'autrui.

Citation Monde & Beau

Sur le plus beau trône du monde, on n'est jamais assis que sur son cul !

Citation Jalousie & Esprit

La jalousie est de toutes les maladies de l'esprit celle à qui le plus de choses servent d'aliment et le moins de choses de remède.

Citation Donner & Autrui

Il faut se prêter à autrui et ne se donner qu'à soi-même.

Citation Moi & Mon

Lecteur, je suis moi-même la matière de mon livre.

Citation Amour & Vie

Les plaisirs de l'amour sont les seuls vrais plaisirs de la vie corporelle.

Citation Amitie & Communication

L'amitié se nourrit de communication.

Citation Peu & Politesse

La politesse coûte peu et achète tout.

Citation Femme & Science

La plus utile et honorable science et occupation à une femme, c'est la science du ménage.

Citation Monde & Variete

Le monde n'est que variété et dissemblance.

Citation Mort & Arrive

Tous les jours vont à la mort, le dernier y arrive.

Citation Autre & Apprendre

Mon apprentissage n'a d'autre fruit que de me faire sentir combien il me reste à apprendre.

Citation Mepris & Silencieux

Il n'est réplique si piquante que le mépris silencieux.

Citation Parole & Moitie

La parole est moitié à celui qui parle, moitié à celui qui écoute.

Citation Temps & Heureux

J'ai vu en mon temps cent artisans, cent laboureurs, plus sages et plus heureux que des recteurs de l'université.

Citation Chose & Monde

La plus grande chose du monde, c'est de savoir être à soi.

Citation Vie & Mouvement

Notre vie n'est que mouvement.

Citation Science & Ignorance

La vraie science est une ignorance qui se sait.

Citation Coeur & Savoir

Savoir par coeur n'est pas savoir : c'est tenir ce qu'on a donné en garde à sa mémoire.

Citation Ignorance & Soi

L'ignorance qui se sait, qui se juge et qui se condamne, ce n'est pas une entière ignorance : pour l'être, il faut qu'elle s'ignore soi-même.

Citation Homme & Monde

Il n'y a point de bête au monde tant à craindre à l'homme que l'homme.

Citation Liberte & Chose

La vraie liberté est de pouvoir toute chose sur soi.

Citation Esprit & Vieillesse

La vieillesse nous attache plus de rides en l'esprit qu'au visage.

Citation Boire & Donc

Le jambon fait boire Or, le boire désaltère Donc, le jambon désaltère.

Citation Dire & Moi

Si on me presse de dire pourquoi je l'aimais, je sens que cela ne peut s'exprimer qu'en répondant : "Parce que c'était lui, parce que c'était moi."

Citation Mieux & Corps

Si on cache une région du corps, c'est pour mieux attirer l'attention sur elle.

Citation Connaissance & Devoir

Il ne faut pas laisser au jugement de chacun la connaissance de son devoir.

Citation Choses & Abuser

On ne peut abuser que de choses qui sont bonnes.

Citation Rien & Chose

Rien n'imprime si vivement quelque chose à notre souvenance que le désir de l'oublier.

Citation Douter & Philosopher

Philosopher, c'est douter.

Citation Bien & Mieux

Mieux vaut tête bien faite que tête bien pleine.

Éduquer, ce n'est pas remplir des vases mais c'est allumer des feux

Citation Ensemble & Dire

C'est une belle harmonie quand le dire et le faire vont ensemble.

Citation Ame & Impossible

La pauvreté des biens est facile à guérir, la pauvreté de l'âme, impossible.

Citation Art & Militaire

L'une des plus grandes sagesses de l'art militaire, c'est de ne pas pousser son ennemi au désespoir.

Citation Nature

Nature peut tout et fait tout.

Si la vie n'est qu'un passage, dans ce passage au moins semons des fleurs.

Citation Monde & Lumiere

Notre monde vient d'en trouver un autre, cet autre monde ne fera qu'entrer en lumière quand le nôtre en sortira

Citation Rien & Beaucoup

Ne faites donc pas comme l'avare, qui perd beaucoup pour ne vouloir rien perdre.

Citation Enfants & Jeux

Les jeux des enfants ne sont pas jeux.

Citation Femme & Mariage

Un bon mariage serait celui d'une femme aveugle avec un mari sourd.

Citation Homme & Autres

Qui se connaît, connaît aussi les autres, car chaque homme porte la forme entière de l'humaine condition.

Citation Vivre & Hommes

Qui apprendrait les hommes à mourir, leur apprendrait à vivre.

Citation Chacun & Barbarie

Chacun appelle barbarie ce qui n'est pas de son usage.

Citation Bonheur & Esprit

Le bonheur ne se perçoit pas sans esprit et sans vigueur.

Questions fréquentes sur Michel de Montaigne

La citation la plus célèbre de Michel de Montaigne est : « Éduquer, ce n'est pas remplir des vases mais c'est allumer des feux » .

La citation la plus courte de Michel de Montaigne est : « Philosopher, c'est douter. » .

La plus belle citation de Michel de Montaigne est : « Si la vie n'est qu'un passage, sur ce passage au moins semons des fleurs. » ( Michel de Montaigne ).

La citation la plus longue de Michel de Montaigne est : « Si on me presse de dire pourquoi je l'aimais, je sens que cela ne peut s'exprimer qu'en répondant : "Parce que c'était lui, parce que c'était moi." » .

L'année de décès de Michel de Montaigne est 1592.

L'année de naissance de Michel de Montaigne est 1533.

Il existe 165 citations célèbres de Michel de Montaigne.

Michel de Montaigne est de nationalité française.

Les activités connues de Michel de Montaigne sont : artiste, écrivain, homme politique.

Autres phrases sur « michel de montaigne »

  • Citations de Michel De Montaigne sur Mort
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  • Citations de Michel De Montaigne sur Apprentissage
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  • Citations de Michel De Montaigne sur Maladie
  • Citations de Michel De Montaigne sur Amitie
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  • Citations de Michel De Montaigne sur Difference
  • Citations de Michel De Montaigne sur La mort
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  • Citations de Michel De Montaigne sur Faiblesse
  • Citations de Michel De Montaigne sur Croit
  • Citations de Michel De Montaigne sur Dieu
  • Citations de Michel De Montaigne sur Barbarie

Citations d'artiste

Portrait de Victor Hugo

Citations d'écrivain

Portrait de Lamartine

Citations d'homme politique

Portrait de Gandhi

Citations de francais

Portrait de Napoléon Bonaparte

Biographie de Michel de Montaigne

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The Oxford Handbook of Montaigne

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37 Montaigne on Imagination

Wes Williams is Professor of French Literature at Oxford University and a Fellow of St Edmund Hall. His first book, ‘The Undiscovered Country’: Pilgrimage and Narrative in the French Renaissance (Clarendon Press, 1999), was the first full-length study of the place of pilgrimage within Renaissance culture. Recent publications include Monsters and their Meanings in Early Modern Culture: ‘Mighty Magic’ (Oxford University Press, 2012) and a chapter on Montaigne in Lucretius and the Early Modern (Oxford University Press, 2015). Among his current projects is a study of the changing shapes of Voluntary Servitude from early modernity to the present. He also writes and directs for the theater and (occasionally) for film.

  • Published: 07 April 2016
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This article explores aspects of Montaigne’s imagination with a focus on questions of conception and generation, volition and cognition, human and animal being. Engaging critically with the reception of early modern theories of the imagination in both poetic and medical discourse, and with a set of now canonical essays in the field (I, 8; II, 6; II, 12 as well as I, 21), it explores a number of resonant themes, tropes, and actions: falling, watching, reading, and (almost) dying. Discussion of Montaigne’s inheritance is best conducted alongside consideration of the complex afterlives of the Essays , and their powerful effects on the imagination of his readers. Particular attention is here paid to a “family” of privileged figures in the writing: monsters, children, and cats, and the argument, throughout, is that the imagination in, and of, Montaigne is best grasped as a distinctly embodied force.

“ Recently ,” writes Montaigne, “at my house, a cat was seen watching a bird on a treetop.” Less well known, perhaps, than the “most storied cat in early modern letters,” the “ chatte ” of the “Apology for Raymond Sebond,” who causes Montaigne to wonder if he might not be a toy in her game, this masculine cat, along with the bird in its sights and before long in its claws, nonetheless deserves our close attention, if not admiration. 1 For, so Montaigne tells us, “after they had locked gazes for some time, the bird let itself fall as if dead between the cat’s paws, either intoxicated by its own imagination or drawn by some attracting power of the cat.” 2 This brief sentence, whose presence in the Essays records a beguiling instance of the work of the imagination, also marks a distinctive turn in the course of Montaigne’s sustained reflection on that work, as on the imagination’s peculiar strength, power, or force.

Some readers might already be skeptical about the worth or point of this anecdote. They might reasonably object that Montaigne, having set the scene in motion, avoids answering the important questions it raises. Who witnessed this event? Are they credible witnesses? And even if they are, does the bird’s fall matter enough to be recounted? What lesson, if any, does it teach? And to learn from this experience, do we not need to know which of two “forces” invoked actually caused the fall? Was the bird drunk or was it dragged? The last of these questions, in particular, gives rise to the most troubling query of all, intensified by the aspects of Montaigne’s sentence highlighted above. Did the bird somehow will its own death or was it only feigning: in what sense did it “let itself” fall and what weight should we give to the “as if” attached to its death-like state? And, finally, what about the cat: can it really have imagined the bird into its claws? Did it know what it was doing, and could a cat ever acknowledge such a “ force attractive ” as its own?

Anyone familiar with Montaigne’s writing will recognize that the studied “either/or,” which offers a choice of sorts concerning the reasons for the bird’s fall, serves not to answer such questions but to set them running. And, as seasoned Montaigne readers will also know, or recall, this bird is far from alone in falling prey to imagination’s uncanny power. Indeed, the act of falling (from a tree or a horse; in love, into a trance, or from a litter) turns out to be central to Montaigne’s thinking about the imagination. This is perhaps never more the case than when he couples thinking about the imagination with meditation on the ancient and complex questions of volition and subjection, constrained choice and the will. “Those that fall,” he notes, in a companion essay, recounting his own near-fatal fall from a horse, “throw out their arms in front of them, by a natural impulse which makes our limbs lend each other their services and have stirrings apart from our reason” [ à part de nostre discours ]. And to reinforce the point, Montaigne then inserts the following lines from Lucretius’s long poem about (among other things) the limits of human sensation, the will, and the imagination:

Falciferos memorant currus abscindere membra, Ut tremere in terra videatur ab artubus, id quod Decidit abscissum, cum mens tamen atque hominis vis Mobilitate mali non quit sentire dolorem. They say that chariots bearing scythes will cut so fast That severed limbs are writhing on the ground below Before the victim’s soul and strength can ever know Or even feel the pain, so swift has been the hurt. ( DRN . iii. 648) 3

Lucretius’s poem is, of course, not mere reinforcement of a point already known by Montaigne from experience. He quotes the poet’s words of reported witness and grafts them to the body of his own text because they are themselves, in their survival and in the enduring force of their shape, rhythm, and style, further evidence of the human imagination’s reach and power. 4

We will return later to these and to other examples, taken from life as from poetry, that animate the early modern discourse on the imagination, and to which Montaigne devotes serious and sceptical discussion in the final section of the essay “Of the strength/power/force of the imagination” (alternatives added). That essay, with its account of the imagination’s hold on Montaigne’s thinking about himself, his own body, and his several imaginary alter egos— from cats and horses to pregnant women—will be the focus of the closing section of this article. But before then it is important to try to gain some further sense of the significance of the term imagination and its cognates in the early modern period, throughout the Essays themselves, and in recent critical debate. 5

Phantasia , Affordance, and Force

Strength, power, and force: as a wide range of recent studies have shown, the imagination in the early modern period is, as it was for the ancients, many different things. 6 For some commentators it is best conceived of as a faculty of the soul, while for others it is more properly a mental function that serves as a kind of intermediary between sensation and thought. There is general consensus that whilst the imagination is an essential part of what enables humans to survive, or even thrive, it can, if unregulated, prove harmful, even fatal, as it may have done for Montaigne’s bird. The extent, or degree, to which the imagination is a specifically human gift (or curse), as opposed to one shared with other animals, was a matter of impassioned debate throughout the early modern period. This remains true today, as inherited theories of the imagination are being reassessed and are seen to offer compelling evidence that thinking and feeling, far from being distinct or separate activities, are differently accented effects of the embodied mind at work. 7

How we ourselves conceive of the constituent parts of human and animal being—soul, body, mind, self, instinct, nature, culture, nurture, intention, cognition, and so on—will, of course, have a significant bearing on the way we understand the function, status, or role of the imagination. Ian McFarlane, for instance, in his pioneering scholarly discussion of the concept in Montaigne, concludes the first paragraph of his discussion with a set of terms and categories that have, in the decades since he wrote them, been subjected to radical reappraisal: “whatever variation might be found among the traditional attitudes, it was generally agreed that the imagination was related to the body or at best the lower realms of the self, and was therefore likely to come into conflict with essential being or the spiritual aspects of the mind.” 8 To value, by contrast, Montaigne’s Fabulous Imagination principally because it “anticipates the work of psychoanalysis,” as Lawrence Kritzman does in his recent study, and to praise the essayist because “he represents the beginning of a philosophical tradition in French letters in which ontological and epistemological concerns intersect,” all of which makes of our hero “the first thinker in the Western tradition to explore human subjectivity in a profound way” is to argue quite a different, albeit similarly “dated” case. 9

Both McFarlane and Kritzman are exemplary in their distinctive fashions; they serve here as representatives of different, but distinctly recognizable and durable modes of approach to Montaigne, his intellectual forbears, and his critical legacy. Other approaches that have argued, in their very diversity, the richness of Montaigne’s imagination, include those situated within the field of genetic criticism, reinforced by the ever-developing tools of digital inquiry; each of the successive critical “turns” of the past few decades has refashioned Montaigne’s imagination in its own image. This is, in some sense, as it should be, and I myself have shown elsewhere that Montaigne’s grasp of the workings of the imagination can be understood as standing in compelling relation to questions of both gender and genre as well as in productive tension to both the medical and the political registers of his own time. If this article further contends that recent theories about gestural thinking, embodied mind, and situated cognition can usefully be experimented with in relation to Montaigne’s work, then this is not because such theories should be seen to have displaced others in the grand march (or as it can seem, at times, the grubby market) of scholarship over time. It is because it seems vitally clear that readers of the Essays have thus far learned most and, in future, will derive real pleasure and understanding from his text when putting themselves and their most cherished theoretical assumptions to the test of “thinking with” Montaigne. The point here is not primarily to praise one approach or blame another, still less to present the latest theory as the best; rather, it is to stress that literary interpretation is not a progressively determined science.

Intellectual historians generally agree that, in common with other Renaissance writers, Montaigne inherited and elaborated two dominant strands of theory concerning the imagination; roughly, these can be designated as the Aristotelian and the Platonic. There is also common agreement across the Renaissance itself that the classic texts underscoring each of these traditions are far from clear. Aristotle’s short chapter in the De Anima on the imagination (which he terms phantasia ) was, for instance, much commented on, and it gave rise to a good deal of counterargument and further theoretical thinking in a range of works that situate themselves at the intersection of philosophy, medicine, and (at times) heterodox religious thought. As a consequence, phantasia came to cover a wide spectrum of meanings. Insofar as it can be described as “that in virtue of which we say that an image ( phantasma ) occurs to us” (to quote Aristotle’s clearest statement on the matter), the imagination might indeed be best understood as a faculty, serving as a kind of intermediary between both the external and the internal world and, perhaps more significantly, between the various levels of the soul.

Montaigne himself recognizes, of course, that the imagination is a concept that is notoriously hard to grasp, and he takes both pains and pleasure in recording the most reflexively compelling examples of human efforts to do so that he comes across as he writes. In respect of the classic division of the soul into three modes of action “ l’imaginative, l’appetitive et la consentante ,” Montaigne is clearly taken by the following gestural lesson:

Zeno pictured in a gesture his conception [ son imagination ] of this division of the faculties of the soul: the hand spread and open was appearance; the hand half shut and the fingers a little hooked, consent; the closed fist, comprehension; when, with his left hand he closed his fist still tighter, knowledge [ science ]. 10

In inscribing the successive moves of this gesture as a manuscript addition to the Bordeaux Copy, Montaigne also hands on its kinesic lesson to his readers. 11 His own exemplary gesture serves, furthermore, to stress that to conceive of the imagination as a faculty is not to imagine it as simply a passive storehouse for mental objects. What was true for Zeno was also true for both Aristotle and for Montaigne: to speak and write of the faculties of the soul is also to speak of the active processing of perceptions derived from the senses and of the production of images readied for future thinking in action. In this respect, the imagination, far from being a flight from the everyday, or a romantic means of escape from the real, serves what Freud will call the reality principle. And in so doing, it proves to be what we might call (after both Gibson and Cave) an affordance. 12

Montaigne inherits a good deal from the Aristotelian tradition, particularly, as John Lyons has recently argued, in its Stoic inflections; but he also makes much good sense of the Neoplatonic theories so clearly set out some time ago by Grahame Castor in his account of the role of imagination alongside imitation and inspiration in Renaissance poetics. 13 The presence of these different traditions in the Essays shares important characteristics with what John O’Brien has rightly called a “ vaste brassage ” of vernacular writing on the subject across this period: “Vernacular literature does not simply reflect theories explored in more formal philosophical treatises; both sides produce a ‘ vaste brassage ’ of texts and add to the debate about imagination’s status.” 14 As these and a host of other scholars have shown, for Montaigne, as for others in his time, “ imagination ” is, along with those terms that fall within its broadly defined family (from the closely related “ fantasie ” through “ cogitations ” and “ songes ” all the way to the distant cousins “ resveries ” and “ fictions ”) at once a process or capacity and a set of products, actions, and results.

Not least of these dually inflected process/products is Montaigne’s writing itself. Using the term “ fantasies ” to talk about the thought experiments that are his Essays , Montaigne asserts on opening the powerful essay “Of prayers” that he is offering to his readers “formless and unresolved notions, as do those who publish doubtful questions to debate in the schools, not to establish the truth, but to seek it.” 15 The key terms in this claim can be heard echoing across the Essays . At times the echo will recall to the minds of readers the brutal, brutish, and even monstrous force with which the imagination can take hold of those subject to its power. At other times it will suggest that the well-tempered imagination, even as it sorts, classifies, and otherwise gives shape and order to the elements of past experience, also allows us to anticipate, sketch out, or even predict possible futures. In so doing it affords us the chance to act, speak, and write “ à/en bon escient ”—as Montaigne says, a full twenty times, and which Florio translates (depending on the context) as “in good earnest,” “in good sooth,” or more simply: “truly.”

What Montaigne does not do is give a precise technical account of the imagination at work. For while he is on occasion quite specific about the terms he derives from both legal and medical discourse, at other times he maintains the right to be as loose in his use of language as any of us might be in everyday, ordinary speech. The early modern French term “ fantasie ” might, therefore, like its more common Latinate cousin “ imagination ,” attach itself to a wide range of objects, experiences, and events. Now a set of mental functions, now a powerfully felt passion, it might also (as we have just seen) designate the results of either one, or the other, as enacted in Montaigne’s own writing. While the adjective “ fantasque ” and the verb “ fantasier ” are almost always negatively charged, the verb “ imaginer ” and the not quite synonymous substantives “ fantasie(s) ” and “ imagination(s) ,” might, especially in the plural, encompass any number of thought-like activities or objects from conceiving, through ideas to dreams, fictions, “ essais ,” and—among the most powerfully complex of all instances of the imagination’s power—monsters.

What is particularly striking about Montaigne’s writing on the imagination is that he is never more eloquent about inherited traditions than when they are troubled or when they trouble him. For it is at such times that he finds himself reconceiving the relation between the central terms of the debate. This can be clearly illustrated, with reference to the short chapter “Of idleness” in which Montaigne addresses crucial questions concerning agency and the competing imperatives of passion and reason, the imagination and the will.

The succession of analogies and images that track the movement of Montaigne’s thinking across this short essay (a little less than a page long, even with its two brief accretions over time) are now well known. As with fallow land and fertile women … so it is with minds: the sequence is as memorable as it is troubling. But the argument is traditional enough. In connecting cultivation and culture, and on playing on the several senses of conception, Montaigne is engaging in a debate about inheritance and the proper management of one’s legacy whose values are clearly articulated throughout the text. A man of good standing might, it is assumed, reasonably expect to enjoy some measure of control over the productive capacity of his land, his wife, and his mind. It is common knowledge, too, that the “off-spring” delivered by all three of these turn out to be “wild, useless … shapeless,” unless planted with “good, natural … different” (i.e., masculine, ordered, and regular) seed. In case it is not yet clear to his readers that Montaigne is here (also) reworking ancient images used to talk about the imagination, he concludes this preparatory movement of the essay with a gesture toward the Platonic trope of unbridled horses, themselves moving “in disorder hither and yon in the vague field of the imagination” and a resonant reworking of the “vain visions” of Horace’s “sick man’s dreams.” There is, it seems, “no mad or idle fancy” that improperly managed minds “do not bring forth in this agitation.” 16

Montaigne is here, famously, preparing to tell us that he had dernierement (i.e., recently, or following the death of his father) intended to withdraw from public life, the better to devote his time, efforts, and resources to the cultivation of the muses and his mind. But no sooner is this declaration of intent made plain, his will articulated as clearly as he is able, than his imagination pulls him short with a firmly corrective “ mais /but.” The writing mind attempts to redirect its attention to the discourses of heritage management and generation, only to find them disrupted and displaced by a pair of twinned, privileged, commonplaces from the ancient and early modern discourses of the imagination: maternal impression and the child of the mind. The passage is enormously well known, but merits re-reading:

But I find— Ever idle hours breed wandering thoughts —that, on the contrary, like a runaway horse, it gives itself a hundred times more trouble than it took for others, and gives birth to so many chimeras and fantastic monsters, one after another, without order or purpose, that in order to contemplate their ineptitude and strangeness at my pleasure, I have begun to put them in writing. 17

Montaigne’s return to, and reworking of the stock of traditional commonplaces marks a significant change in direction in his thinking about the imagination’s scope and significance. For whereas his land and his wife earlier served as equal partners with the mind in the metaphorical elaboration of the imagination at work, here the first two have been subsumed into the third. Giving itself license to roam, to colonize the other coordinates of the gentleman’s identity, and to turn incessantly in on itself, Montaigne’s imagination asserts its singular claim both on his present will and on his future inheritance. The classical insight that the imagination might not only affect one’s own body, but also the body of another, has here been turned in on itself. The embodied mind has become an alien mother: usurping Montaigne as host, it produces its own monstrous offspring.

The terms in which Humanist thinkers sought to reassert the value and the pertinence of Platonic thinking take us, like Montaigne before us, some of the way to understanding what is going on in a passage (and a brassage ) such as this. A locus classicus here is Book 13 of Ficino’s Platonica Theologia , the first chapter of which deals with the affectus phantasiae , opening with what O’Brien rightly calls “a brusque assertion”: “Four affections accompany the imagination: desire, pleasure, fear, and pain. When these are at their most powerful, they all immediately affect one’s own body and sometimes even the body of another.” 18 In this Ficinian account (which Montaigne subjects to further scrutiny throughout the Essays ), the imagination is something quite other than the largely benign, or at least controllable, faculty of Aristotelian psychology. A distinctly embodied mode of perception, the vis imaginandi is, rather, endowed with a dangerous mobility. Such mobility might, as in I, 8, be figured as horses grown wild, land overflowing with weeds, or a wife grown unrestrainedly fertile; and each of these figures might, in turn, function as emblems for the reader’s uncontrollable imagination. Indeed, as O’Brien has shown, it is, in all likelihood, thanks to Montaigne’s reading of La Primaudaye’s account of his reading of Ficinian theory that the phrase “ la force de l’imagination ” first migrates into French. 19

The Imagination and the Will

“Of idleness” serves in the first instance as an emblematic exploration of how the gentleman Montaigne works and reworks his inheritance: his land, his social status, and his quest for an heir. But it is also, clearly, a reworking of the inherited theories concerning the imagination, culminating in the compelling image of the imaginary, monstrous child that is his own book. In the face of such a force, hope of redirecting the mind’s attention beyond itself, and so reasserting the force of the will, seems perilously close to futile. But things are not always this grim with, or for, Montaigne’s imagination. Those who are persuaded by an evolutionary account of his life, as of his mind, will take comfort in the fact that in the last of the Essays , “Of experience” (III, 13), Montaigne, having declared himself ready to die and free from all envy in respect of oak trees with their long and full lives, makes the following set of claims, as if in direct and corrective riposte to the story about himself he tells in I, 8:

I have no cause to complain of my imagination. I have had few thoughts in my life that have even interrupted the course of my sleep … I seldom dream, and then it’s about fantastic things and chimeras usually produced by amusing thoughts, more ridiculous than sad. 20

It is clear that the spectrum of capacities and actions, objects, facts, and values associated with both the faculty and the effects of the imagination is complex and vast. What the Essays make plain from start to finish is that the imagination is (for better and for worse) far more than either a storehouse or a processing plant for images derived from every day experience. It designates, in the words of John Lyons, “the usable capacity that mankind has for dissociating the image of the external world from its actual being.” 21 In other words, and as Jean Starobinksi has argued, the imagination is “a distancing capacity,” insofar as it allows us to “both represent distant things to ourselves and distance ourselves from present reality.” 22

Montaigne’s training in the law had taught him that if he trusted only to the coordinates of his own experience, he would risk mistaking the particulars of the objects and events that fall within his field of vision for some kind of universal norm. His close observation of the natural world, like his close engagement with writers of the past, taught him the degree to which behaving in this way betrays a fundamental misconception of the (at once historical and intersubjective) nature of human experience. To guard against the dangers of such miscomprehension of the reach, or significance of human being in the world, he sets, allows, or suffers his imagination to work and, at times, to run wild. And as the closing moves of the short essay on idleness make plain, the best that Montaigne (or any of his readers) can do when subject to the will of the imagination is to track its movements, record the shape of monsters it brings into being, and hope, in time, to shame it into submission or, at least, into moving on to things beyond itself.

Of course, the freedom to move with which the human imagination is endowed is for many a matter of faith, as of pride. As Lyons rightly points out, Montaigne, in effect, argues that “without imagination there would be no humanity (as such) and no animality (no bestise ).” But it is equally true that while it may the case that for Montaigne “humans are animals with imagination, and not, as is more often said, animals who reason … our superiority over the animals is in our imagination—in both the senses of that expression: it is an illusion and it consists of our imagination.” 23

The imagination often (like Montaigne’s “ chatte ”) makes of the human will its plaything, and this is perhaps nowhere more evident than in respect of the movement of our bodies. “There are many movements of ours that do not come from our will,” writes Montaigne when reflecting on the games his imagination played with his embodied mind, as with his somehow disembodied will, following the fall from his horse. He records the fact that he had found himself trying to scratch open his jacket, to stop the bleeding and to assuage the pain that he knew must be there, even though, he says, “I felt nothing in my imagination that hurt me … my hands flew to it of their own accord, as they often do where we itch, against the intention of our will.” 24 Time and again in this revisiting of both the theme and the act of falling in the Essays , Montaigne represents himself (and others who fall) as engaged in involuntary movement, and so subject to that crucial gap—the internalized distance or “ écart ”—that structures the work of the human imagination. Even as he charts the limits of his own imaginative reach and embodied memory, Montaigne also makes careful note of the imagination’s capacity to register, rather than measure, the crucially determined distance not only between anticipation and events, but also between sensation and experience in the here and now. “Of practice” recalls that he had to use his nails to tear open his clothes since he had not been bearing arms while on his horse—this was supposed to have been a gentle ride, an afternoon’s distraction.

It is this capacity to sense—and sometimes passionately to feel—the detail of the distance between our immediate, settled selves and forms of experience that we can barely even conceive of, let alone call our own, that is the imagination’s greatest gift. But the consequences of this gift are manifold. Within the compass of II, 6, it allows Montaigne finally, and after many other attempts, essais , or exercitations to somehow imagine the “true and natural face of death,” to assert some measure of cooperative control over what he believes, at the time, to be his last moments in life. Both Montaigne’s original French and Florio’s exquisite rendition of it deserve to be recalled here:

Me thought my selfe had no other hold of me but of my lips-ends. I closed mine eyes to help (as me seemed) to send it forth, and tooke a kinde of pleasure to linger and languishingly to let my selfe goe from my selfe. It was an imagination swimming superficially in my minde, as weake and as tender as all the rest: but in truth, not only exempted from displeasure but rather commixt with that pleasant sweetnesse which they feel that suffer themselves to fall into a soft-slumbring and sense-entrancing sleepe. 25

Over the course of his writing life, the practice of recording, registering, and sorting the “ resveries ” of his imagination offers Montaigne some measure of both relief and control, as he discerns within them what McFarlane eloquently terms “a certain pattern in time relevant to self-knowledge.” 26 If both Aristotelian and Platonic thinking already fostered, albeit in different ways, the conception of things and events beyond the realm of our own immediate and direct experience, Montaigne inherits these ancient traditions and makes of them a peculiarly charged capacity, or affordance, for thinking not only about his own legacy, but also about volition, death, and the limits of human understanding.

Montaigne, of course, never once deploys the substantive “ moi ”; we can only imagine what he would have made of Florio’s “let my selfe goe from my selfe.” But Florio’s transposition of the passage just quoted nonetheless reinforces the reader’s grasp of Montaigne’s powerfully haptic sense. For Montaigne here first asserts and then surrenders control over the event, the better to then give his several, separated selves over to the work of the imagination. In so doing he is further released (as the meditation on the death of his friend La Boétie, which immediately follows this passage, makes plain) to engage himself in the curious fret-work of mourning that is the Essays.

The Imagination’s Afterlives

It is a recurrent feature of the grammar of Montaigne’s imagination that the infinitive form of the verb “ imaginer ” is, more often than not, set to work at, or beyond, defined limits. These limits might, depending on the instance, be modally, negatively, or superlatively determined; but the imagined objects or actions designated in this way are, without exception, habits of the constrained mind. His first example of this kind of verbal device in the Essays enacts a grumble about “indifferent things,” namely clothes: square bonnets, long tails of plaited velvet, and “that empty and useless model of a member that we cannot even decently mention by name, which, however, we show off and parade in public” are singled out as “in my opinion the most monstrous that can be imagined.” 27 The second evokes the Ancients’ imagined wonder had they been able to return from the afterlife and so witness the wonders of the New World, marvels that surpass “the conception and the very desire of philosophy. They could not imagine a naturalness so pure and simple as we see by experience.” 28 The sequence of examples continues across the Essays : whether the matter at hand is costume or nudity, the brave new world or the cravenly decadent old, “man can be only what he is, and imagine only within his reach.” 29

This maxim-like phrase, one of Montaigne’s starkest claims, is taken from the “Apology for Raymond Sebond,” an essay in which conceiving of the imagination in negatively charged terms proves to be itself something of a habit, expressed grammatically in specifically inflected, limit-case uses of the verb “ imaginer .” So, for instance, when revisiting the recurrent theme of inheritance, Montaigne writes: “There is nothing so horrible to imagine as eating one’s father.” 30 And yet, he suggests, we can, and indeed must imagine such things if we are to first recognize and them move beyond the intellectual and more broadly cultural constraints of the conditions into which we are born.

An anxiety about inheritance here modulates into a “ fantasie ” about cultural difference: the imagined scenario in which I, Montaigne, might reasonably do something as apparently monstrous as eat my own father. This, in turn, affords me the possibility of not only acknowledging but properly imagining the existence of others, other cultural forms, and other ways of being. The point of such imagining is not (or need not be) to embrace alien practice as one’s own; it is, in the first instance, to realize that our own most cherished cultural practices might seem unimaginably horrific to others. From here, with our conceptual and affective habits measured against those beyond our common ken, we might then be better placed to come to reasoned judgments, both about our own actions and experiences here and now and about what might happen to us after we die.

Among the most challenging of the test cases exploring the limits of the humanly imaginable in the “Apology” are Montaigne’s thoughts about the forms of individual and social being in the afterlife. As he often does when engaged in thinking at the edge of inherited understanding, Montaigne here imagines himself in dialogue with Plato. Of the many “rich and great souls of the past” whose words and thoughts inform Montaigne’s own in the Essays , Plato seems to be the most chattily approachable. Many readers will recall the “modern” Montaigne’s cheery, cannibal-inspired rejoinder to the “Ancient” Plato: “You know all that stuff you wrote about Atlantis, in the Timaeus , well you might have to think again, because… .” The tone in the “Apology” is less respectful still, as after having read out a long roll-call of preposterous fiction-mongering philosophers and priests who deal in “false, impious and harmful” images of God, Montaigne addresses Plato in person. He does so not in his own voice alone but by joining company with a figure he calls “human reason” (later acknowledged as Epicurus in disguise), the better to engage in argument with Plato concerning the conceptual pictures he paints of human life after death. 31

He may well have been given the soubriquet “Divine,” but Plato is rebuked for his description of the Orchards of Pluto that await us in the afterlife: they are, the collective voice of Montaigne and human reason suggests, no more spiritually credible than the lurid and “honeyed” promises of Mohammed or the “worldly pleasures and comforts” that “some of our fellows” peddle to the local faithful closer to home. All such images bear witness to the “marvellous intoxication of the human intelligence”: drunk on our imaginings (like the bird in the treetop), we risk falling into the trap of false belief. The at once fideist and skeptical conclusion of the harangue that Montaigne performs against Plato, in the ventriloquized voice of “human reason,” is that it is beyond the power of the human imagination truly [ à bon escient ] to understand the “ conceptions divines ” that regulate the conditions of our being beyond death: “to imagine them worthily, we must imagine them unimaginable, ineffable, and incomprehensible, and completely different from those of our miserable experience.” 32 The adverbs unveil the paradoxical stakes of the challenge: such thinking can hardly be done appropriately if it cannot be done at all. A trio of limit-case adjectives presses the heterodox point home, before a post-1588 addition broadens (or perhaps flattens) the perspective by invoking the pathos of generalizable, human “experience.”

Heterodox/fideist; radical/conservative: it may be that neither of these binaries is, finally, very useful in respect of Montaigne’s thoughts on religious beliefs and their relation to the imagination. It might be more fruitful to see such passages, which is to say movements of thought, as formally engaged in the process of testing, or experimenting with, “experience” and its relation to the limits of the comparative, analogical imagination. For the lines just quoted continue with the translated scriptural thoughts of Paul concerning the humanly unimaginable nature of the changes that follow death, glossed, in turn, by reference to, first, Plato (by name), then Aristotle (by doctrine), and then Hector and his horse (by way of lines from Ovid). By way of conclusion to this intoxicating textual cocktail, Lucretius’s poetry takes over from “human reason” to make things altogether painful and plain (and Florio’s translation once again serves the argument here better than Frame):

‘No eye can behold (saith Saint Paul ) the hap that God prepareth for his elect, nor can it possibly enter the heart of man. (1 Cor . ii. 9.) And if to make us capable of it (as thou saist, Plato , by thy purifications), our being is reformed and essence changed, it must be by so extreme and universall a change that, according to philosophicall doctrine, we shall be no more ourselves: Hector erat tunc cum belle certabat, at ille Tractus ab Æmonio non erat Hector equo. Hector he was, when he in fight us’d force; Hector he was not, drawne by th’enemies horse,

It shall be some other thing that shall receive these recompences.

quod mutatur, dissolvitur; interit ergo: Trajiciuntur enim partes atque ordine migrant. What is chang’d is dissolved, therefore dies: Translated parts in order fall and rise. 33

Whatever historical, religious, or intellectual tradition we imagine writing of this kind be working within, or against, and however we parse it theoretically, this is strong, tough medicine.

That we can speak about Montaigne’s Essays as heuristic imagining, and as a form of skeptically self-administered medicine, is due, in part, to a new understanding of the intellectual history of skepticism and, in part, to recent shifts in critical paradigms concerning the relation between literature and the medical, psychological, and neurological sciences. Such changes in our own cultural situatedness have, perhaps, made us more sensitive to those moments in Montaigne’s text in which he reflects explicitly on his intentions as an author, the effect his writings may one day have on others, and the distinctly somatic effects that reading produces in him. One such passage in “Of presumption” is especially instructive. Montaigne begins by telling us that he always has an idea in his mind “and some blurred picture which offers me, as if in a dream, a better form than the one I have.” The Bordeaux Copy’s record of the changes and shifts in the pattern of this phrase, and those that surround it, make startlingly clear on the page the material movement of Montaigne’s imagination over time. As will be clear from the center of the image reproduced below, just as one confession about the weakness of Montaigne’s imagination is erased, so another, of a different order, takes its place in the textual dance.

The otherwise lost sentence reads: “Even in my imagination, I cannot conceive of things in their greatest perfection.” Its surviving supplement, referring back to the “idea itself” that Montaigne once held in his mind, now qualifies that original idea as “mediocre” (in Florio’s phrase: “of the meaner stamp”). But the writer’s experience of repeated failure when trying to make his conceptions match those of his dreams contrasts, sharply, with his physically intense sense of the effects that the imaginations of others have on him: “the productions of those great rich minds of the past are very far beyond the utmost stretch of my imagination and desire. Their writings not only satisfy and fill me, but astound me and transfix me with admiration.” 34 The key nouns denoting the work of the imagination here—“ productions ,” “ ames ,” “ imagination ,” “ ouvrages ,” “ escris ,” “ souhaicts ,” and “ admiration ”—are not only related, but also very close kin indeed. And the verbs that both recount and enact the effects on Montaigne of his engagement with texts are insistently physical (see Figure 37.1 ). In this imaginary embodied erotics of reading, the frustrating gap between intention and effect dissolves as one body of words takes passionate hold of the astonished reader, who, as if enraptured, generates another in turn: the body of writing, the child of the mind we call Montaigne.

 Bordeaux Copy, f. 264r (Montaigne Studies)

Bordeaux Copy, f. 264 r ( Montaigne Studies )

“Of the power of the imagination”

In turning, finally, to chapter I, 21 of the Essays —“Of the power of the imagination”—we catch sight of Montaigne in reflexive pursuit of an elusive quarry that is “ pensee, cogitation, phantasie, imagination ”: the words for the thing proliferate, the further the inquiry progresses. From unwilled erections through shameful impotence to unwanted pregnancies, the essay is a storehouse of cases, anecdotes, and references about how the potentially deceptive intermediary between our senses and our souls that is the imagination can run both public and private riot. From legal to medical registers, from hearsay to personal testimony, from a mock-defense of the arraigned penis to discussion of the cases of children been born in unlikely or monstrous colors, shapes, and forms, Montaigne tracks the movement of his prey.

Testing the limits of inherited accounts of the imagination, Montaigne’s essay swells from its initially fairly modest conception to encompass a host of stories of people who (for instance) become ill because they imagine themselves to be so or, alternatively, are cured of diseases of the imagination because they believe themselves to have been treated well. Examples derived from Augustine—from a man who can fart tunes at will to another who seems to be able to fall down and (like the bird) appear to be dead for some long time—rub shoulders with counterexamples closer to home, and closer to the bone. Taken together, they amplify the echoes of discussion elsewhere in the Essays , including the discussions we have ourselves attended to in this article concerning the limits of the human will, on the one hand, and, on the other, the imagination’s forceful empire.

Augustine’s tuneful pétomane stands in painful contrast with the man (in whom some readers recognize Montaigne himself) whose recurrent inability to actually pass the wind that builds up within him causes him such pain at times that he wishes he could die. And the Church Father’s example of the man who appeared to be able to die and resurrect himself at will contrasts with the dinner guest, who, having been told that she had been served cat in a pie, became so convulsed with revulsion that she died; but, it was all a mistake; indeed, there was no cat—the remark had been intended as a joke. 35

The examples multiply and might seem to threaten to overwhelm the point of the discussion. But the questions they raise are all the more passionately charged for being subjectively determined. “I am,” Montaigne stresses at the start of the essay, “one of those who are very much influenced by the imagination.” This confessional claim follows immediately after another, couched in Latin, and set at a distinct distance from Montaigne’s own vernacular voice: “ A strong imagination creates the event , say the scholars.” 36 A later, post-1588 addition shifts the balance decisively in favor of keenly felt subjective experience, even as it reinforces the point, or sharpness of the claim, concerning the imagination’s strength, power, and force: “Everyone feels its impact, but some are overthrown by it. Its impression on me is piercing.” 37

The terms Montaigne here uses to convey the experience of being subject to the imagination are well chosen: they are freighted with history, with theory, and with the specifically gendered figuration of the imagination’s reach. They suggest that in this essay more than in any other, Montaigne is engaged in a distinctly reflexive meditation on the ways in which we understand the imagination as being bound up with conception and reproduction, in the several senses of these terms. And in representing himself as overcome, pierced, and imprinted by the imagination, Montaigne does more than simply articulate its effects on his own understanding, flesh, and soul. He also clearly aligns (and perhaps allies) himself with the several women whose monstrous bodies and children populate the medical, political, and just plain prurient pamphlets of early modern France.

Montaigne knew this literature well. He retells many of the commonly found examples, including that of the—now famous—sex change that befell a certain Marie/Germain as she strained herself while jumping, and whom Montaigne was able to see in the course of his travels to Italy. 38 And he knew, too, that the textbook examples of the imagination’s power to act over a distance, to act, that is, not only against oneself, but also “ contre le corps d’autrui ” involved, as we noted above by way of introduction, the birth of monstrous, or anomalous, children:

We know by experience that women transmit the marks of their fancies to the bodies of the children they carry in their womb; witness the one who gave birth to the Moor. And there was presented to Charles, king of Bohemia and Emperor, a girl from Pisa, all hairy and bristly, who her mother said had been thus conceived because of a picture of St John the Baptist hanging by her bed. With animals it is the same: witness Jacob’s sheep, and the partridges and hares that the snow turns white in the mountains. 39

These are all standard examples of the theory known as “maternal impression.” Montaigne could have derived them from either Pierre Boaistuau’s Histoires Prodigieuses or (as seems more likely) from chapter 9 of the treatise Des monstres et prodiges by the doctor, Ambroise Paré: “examples of monsters produced by the imagination.” 40 Early modern medicine recognized, in theory and in practice, the imagination’s imprint rendered legible in the shape, color, size, and texture of a vast company of “monstrous” children, and the developing publishing industry made the most of an appetite for such wonders in print. Montaigne joins company, then, with compilers and the doctors of his time. But the differences between his writings and theirs are as instructive as connections we can make between them.

The example of Jacob’s sheep, for example, is explained in more detail in Paré than in Montaigne, and the essayist’s ellipsis regarding “the one who gave birth to the Moor”—almost a gossipy remark to those in the know—supplants a long excursus in the medical treatise in which Paré recounts a tale of professional rescue. An expensively reared white princess is there saved from the consequences of the accusation of adultery with a black interloper, and all on the strength of Hippocrates’s persuasive explanation. 41

The imagination’s imprint on one further daughter, herself the photographic negative, as it were, of the Hippocratic child, is not so much mentioned in passing as altogether elided from the list of monstrous births as it moves from Paré’s teratological treatise to Montaigne’s essay . The case is that of Chariclea, an Ethiopian princess, born white as a result of her mother’s having fixed her gaze on a painting of the marble-white Andromeda during the moment of conception. Her story is first recorded in Heliodorus’s ancient Greek romance, the Aethiopica, and her exemple is adduced as evidence by Paré in his chapter on maternal impression. But while he cites each of Paré’s other examples, in an identical sequence, Montaigne omits all mention of Chariclea, or of Heliodorus’s romance; at least he does so here. Elsewhere, the example of Heliodorus is consciously added to an already existing list, namely that of affectionate fathers prepared to sacrifice themselves for their imaginary children: their books. But that, as they say, is another story. 42

“My father saw a cat”

Montaigne’s tracking of the effects of imagination’s power runs, consistently, through the body. For it is at “the narrow seam between the soul and body, through which the experience of the one is communicated to the other” that the occult qualities of the imagination are made most clearly manifest. 43   Vis imaginanda, la vertu imaginative, la force de l’imagination … la force attractive du chat : the imagination was debated by theorists of conception in generations from Plato to Paré and from Aristotle to Augustine, by way of Moses and Heliodorus, Pomponazzi, and La Primaudaye. Montaigne brings the work of the this compelling force, or power, home: to Montaigne, to the house, and (in the first editions of this essay) to his father, whose erased name stands behind the late emendation concerning the character and the status of the witness to the interchange between the cat and the bird in the treetop with which this discussion began. “ Mon pere vit un jour un chat … ” reads the 1580 version of the phrase that introduces this encounter. If we return to it now, it is to consider one last time the cat, the bird, and the legacy of the erased father chez Montaigne as reflexively charged emblems of the imagination’s empire, reach, and force.

Antoine Compagnon, in his brief but trenchant study, Chat en poche , sounded the alarm concerning overly allegorical readings of Montaigne, readings he qualified as “teratological.” 44 The cat of this essay, with the bird (almost, or finally) in its claws, does not lend itself to ready allegorization, and it appears, initially, far from monstrous. Generically speaking, it is not a character in an animal fable, and neither it nor the bird are made to ventriloquize political, ethical, or psychological lessons for their human counterparts. But both creatures do nonetheless figure , along with the now erased father who first caught sight of them, as both invitation and warning, the significance of which becomes clear when we grasp their spatial relation to each as a function of Montaigne’s restless, reflexively conditioned investigation into the workings of his own imagination. All three freeze for a moment, as if in an image: the bird and the cat each seems to be caught in the gaze of the other, with the father as it were off-screen, watching, waiting, perhaps, to be supplanted by the reader: the nonspecific “ on ” who gets to see the whole thing happen “ dernierement ”: not later, but lately, recently, just now.

This triangulated figuration might usefully be seen to represent an imagined relation between three literary properties, or communicative affordances, held suspended as if in mutually fascinated tension by the force of the imagination: an author’s consciously erased (but all the more inferred) intentions, a written text that survives over time, and its readers, here and now. Such a figuration raises further questions in turn: if we, beguiled, fall under the spell of the Essays , is this either because we have become intoxicated by our own imaginations, reflected in the mirror of Montaigne, or because we have become subject to the “force attractive” of Montaigne’s intentional legacy, his written will? Of course, as the essay itself teaches us, either/or does not exhaust the rage of possibilities imagined by the literary encounter. For (as Montaigne already seems to sense, imagine, or hope) his book may yet fall into the hands of a reader inclined to overlook the father behind the screen and, with him, the inherited “ fantasies ” of book-children, intention and the constrained will. In so doing, she might play cat, for a time, to the author’s bird.

All quotations from Montaigne are taken from The Complete Works of Montaigne , trans. Donald Frame (New York and London: Everyman’s Library, 2003 , and Les Essais de Michel de Montaigne , ed. Pierre Villey and V. L. Saulnier (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1978) : II, 12, 401 [452]. The embedded quotation here is from Laurie Shannon , The Accommodated Animal: Cosmopolity in Shakespearean Locales (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013), 123 .

I, 21, 90–91 [105]: “s’estant fichez la veuë ferme l’un contre l’autre quelque espace de temps, l’oyseau s’estre laissé choir comme mort entre les pates du chat, ou ennyvré par sa propre imagination, ou attiré par quelque force attractive du chat.”

II, 6, 329 [376]. There are clear and compelling connections between I, 21 and II, 6. For a critical discussion of this connection, see the following three very differently accented articles: Frank Lestringant, “Montaigne et le corps en procès. ‘De la force de l’imagination,’ ” in La Poétique des passions à la Renaissance , ed. François Lecercle and Simone Perrier (Paris: H. Champion, 2001), 91–109 ; John O’Brien , “Imagination,” in Dictionnaire de Michel de Montaigne , ed. Philippe Desan (Paris: H. Champion, 2007) ; and Dora Polachek , “Montaigne and Imagination: The Dynamics of Power and Control” in Le parcours des Essais, Montaigne 1588–1988 , ed. Marcel Tetel and Gregory M. Masters (Paris: Aux Amateurs de Livres, 1989), 135–145 ; see also the fourth chapter of Lawrence D. Kriztman , The Fabulous Imagination: On Montaigne’s Essays (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009) .

For more on how Montaigne’s sense of the worth of poetry is bound up with his understanding of the peculiar force of the Lucretian imagination, see (among many other studies) my “Well Said/Well Thought: How Montaigne read his Lucretius,” in Lucretius and The Early Modern , ed. David Norbrook , Stephen Harrison and Philip Hardie (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 135–160 .

What Montaigne calls the “vague champs” of the imagination is a richly ploughed field, and this article cannot do justice to the complexity and range of recent studies here, but punctual references are provided in these notes; for a sense of the bigger picture, see my Monsters and Their Meanings in Early Modern Culture: “Mighty Magic” (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), especially chap. 3 , “Montaigne’s Children: Metaphor, Medicine, and the Imagination.”

The best initial reference guides are those of Ian McFarlane, “Montaigne and the Concept of the Imagination,” in The French Renaissance and Its Heritage , ed. Alan Boase (London: Methuen, 1968), 117–137 ; and John O’Brien , “Reasoning with the Senses: The Humanist Imagination,” South Central Review 10 (2) (1993): 3–19 , on which I draw extensively here. Five longer studies are Claude-Gilbert Dubois , L’Imaginaire de la Renaissance (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1985) ; Michel Jeanneret , Perpetuum mobile. Métamorphoses des corps et des œuvres de Vinci à Montaigne (Paris, Macula, 1997) ; John Lyons , Before Imagination: Embodied Thought from Montaigne to Rousseau (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2005) ; Olivier Pot , L’Inquiétante étrangeté. Montaigne. La pierre, le cannibale, la mélancholie (Paris: H. Champion, 1993) ; and Rebecca Wilkin , Women, Imagination and the Search for Truth in Early Modern France (Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate, 2008) .

See, in a now intensely active field, Miranda Anderson , The Renaissance Extended Mind (Basingstoke, U.K.: Palgrave Macmillan, 2105) , and Terence Cave , Thinking with Literature: Towards a Cognitive Criticism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016) .

McFarlane , “Montaigne and the Concept of Imagination,” 117 .

Kritzman, The Fabulous Imagination , 1–3, and passim; a similar charge could be laid against Elizabeth Guild’s recent (and otherwise compelling) study, Unsettling Montaigne: Poetics, Ethics and Affect in the Essais and Other Writings (Woodbridge, U.K.: D. S. Brewer, 2014) .

II, 12 452 [503]: “Zenon peignoit de geste son imagination sur cette partition des facultez de l’ame: la main espandue et ouverte, c’estoit apparence; la main à demy serrée et les doigts un peu croches, consentement; le poing fermé, comprehention; quand, de la main gauche, il venoit encore à clorre ce poing plus estroit, science.”

For more on kinesic intelligence, see Guillemette Bolens , The Style of Gestures: Embodiment and Cognition in Literary Narrative (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012) , and the excellent collection of essays in Kinesic Intelligence: Rethinking Movement in Renaissance Literature , ed. Kathryn Banks and Timothy Chesters (forthcoming 2016) .

See Cave , chap. 4, “Literary Affordances: Culture as Second Nature” in Thinking with Literature ; see also Ellen Spolksy , Contracts of Fiction: Cogniton, Culture, Community (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015) . In their very different ways, each reworks James J. Gibson , The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception (Boston: Houghton Miffin, 1979) .

John Lyons , Before Imagination , and Grahame Castor , Pléiade Poetics: A Study in Sixteenth-Century Terminology and Thought (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1964) ; see also Anthony Levi , French Moralists: The Theory of the Passions, 1585 to 1649 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964) .

O’Brien, “The Humanist Imagination,” 16.

I, 56, 278 [317]: “des fantasies informes et irresolues, comme font ceux qui publient des questions doubteuses à debattre aux escoles; non pour establir la verité, mais pour la chercher.”

I, 8, 24 [32]: “Et n’est folie ny réverie, qu’ils ne produisent en cette agitation.” For an exemplary account of the encounter between Horace and Montaigne’s imagination, see Mary B. McKinley , Words in a Corner: Studies in Montaigne’s Latin Quotations (Lexington, Ky.: French Forum, 1981), 37–40 .

I, 8, 25 [33]: “Mais je trouve, / variam semper dant otia mentem , / que au rebours, faisant le cheval eschappé, il se donne cent fois plus d’affaire à soy mesme, qu’il n’en prenoit pour autruy; et m’enfante tant de chimeres et monstres fantasques les uns sur les autres, sans ordre et sans propos, que pour en contempler à mon aise l’ineptie et l’estrangeté, j’ay commancé de les mettre en rolle.”

See John O’Brien, “Reasoning with the Senses,” 8–11, for a detailed discussion of this passage in Ficino and its afterlife in later texts.

John O’Brien, “Reasoning with the Senses,” 11; for more on the prehistories and afterlives of this migration in French writing, see Kate E. Tunstall , “A Case in Transit: Reading Diderot (Reading Montaigne) Reading Augustine,” in Montaigne in Transit: Essays in Honour of Ian Maclean , ed. Neil Kenny , Richard Scholar , and Wes Williams (Oxford: Legenda, 2016) ; Richard Scholar , “La force de l’imagination de Montaigne: Camus, Malebranche, Pascal,” Littératures Classiques 45 (2002): 127–138 ; and the “Epilogue” of my Monsters and Their Meanings .

III, 13, 1027 [1098]: “Je n’ay poinct à me plaindre de mon imagination: j’ay eu peu de pensées en ma vie qui m’ayent seulement interrompu le cours de mon sommeil… . Je songe peu souvent; et lors c’est des choses fantastiques et des chimeres produictes communément de pensées plaisantes, plustost ridicules que tristes.”

Lyons, Before Imagination , 55.

Jean Starobinski , “Jalons pour une histoire du concept d’imagination,” in L’Œil vivant II. La relation critique (Paris: Gallimard, 1970), 174 , my translation; the original French reads: “C’est un pouvoir d’écart grâce auquel nous nous représentons les choses distantes et nous nous distançons des réalités présentes.” See also Glyn P. Norton “Image and Introspective Imagination in Montaigne’s Essais ,” Proceedings of the Modern Language Association 88 (1973): 281–288 .

Lyons, Before Imagination , 50–51.

II, 6, 329 [375–376]: “Je ne sentoy en l’imagination rien qui me blessat: car il y a plusieurs mouvemens en nous qui ne partent pas de nostre ordonnance … mes mains y couroient d’elles mesmes, comme elles font souvent où il nous demange, contre l’advis de nostre volonté.”

See II, 6, 327 [374]: “Il me sembloit que ma vie ne me tenoit plus qu’au bout des lèvres: je fermois les yeux pour ayder, ce me sembloit, à la pousser hors, et prenois plaisir à m’alanguir et à me laisser aller. C’estoit une imagination qui ne faisoit que nager superficiellement en mon ame, aussi tendre et aussi foible que tout le reste, mais à la verité non seulement exempte de desplaisir, ains meslée à cette douceur que sentent ceux qui se laissent glisser au sommeil.”

McFarlane, “Montaigne and the Concept of the Imagination,” 135.

I, 23, 103 [118]: “les plus monstrueux à mon gré qui se puissent imaginer.”

I, 31, 186 [206]: “ Ils n’ont peu imaginer une nayfveté si pure et simple, comme nous la voyons par experience.”

II, 12, 470 [520]: “L’homme ne peut estre que ce qu’il est, ny imaginer que selon sa portée.”

II, 12, 532 [581]: “Il n’est rien si horrible à imaginer que de manger son pere.”

II, 12, 463–469 [514–520].

II, 12, 468 [518]: “pour dignement les imaginer, il faut les imaginer inimaginables, indicibles et incomprehensibles [C] et parfaictement autres que celles de nostre miserable experience.”

II, 12, 468 [518–519]: “Œuil ne sçauroit voir, dict Saint Paul, et ne peut monter en coeur d’homme l’heur que Dieu a preparé aux siens. Et si, pour nous en rendre capables, on reforme et rechange nostre estre (comme tu dis, Platon, par tes purifications), ce doit estre d’un si extreme changement et si universel que, par la doctrine physique, ce ne sera plus nous: Hector erat tunc cum bello certabat; at ille, / Tractus ab Aemonio, non erat Hector, equo./ Ce sera quelque autre chose qui recevra ces recompenses, / quod mutatur, dissolvitur; interit ergo: / Trajiciuntur enim partes atque ordine migrant. ”

II, 17, 586 [637]: “les productions de ces riches et grandes ames du temps passé, sont bien loing au-delà de l’estreme estendue de mon imagination. Leurs escris ne me satisfont pas seulement et me remplissent, mais il m’estonnent et transissent d’admiration.”

I, 21, 87–89 [102–104].

I, 21, 82 [97]: “ Fortis imaginatio generat casum ,disent les clercs. Je suis de ceux, qui sentent tres-grand effort de l’imagination.”

I, 21, 82 [97]: “Chacun en est hurté, mais aucuns en sont renversez. Son impression me perse.”

I, 21, 83 [99]. For a fine analysis of this episode, see Edith J. Benkov , “Re-reading Montaigne’s Memorable Stories: Sexuality and Gender in Vitry-le-François,” in Montaigne after Theory, Theory after Montaigne , ed. Zahi Zalloua (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2009), 202–217 .

I, 21, 90 [105]: “nous voyons par experience les femmes envoyer aux corps des enfans qu’elles portent au ventre des marques de leurs fantasies, tesmoing celle qui engendra le more. Et il fut presenté à Charles, Roy de Boheme et Empereur, une fille d’aupres de Pise, toute velue et herissée, que sa mere disoit avoir esté ainsi conceuë, à cause d’une image de Sainct Jean Baptiste pendue en son lit. Des animaux il en est de mesmes, tesmoing les brebis de Jacob, et les perdris et les lievres, que la neige blanchit aux montaignes.” For more on this passage, see C-G. Dubois , Essais sur Montaigne. La régulation de l’imaginaire. Ethique et politique (Caen: Paradigme, 1992) .

Ambroise Paré , Des Monstres et prodiges [1573], ed. Jean Céard (Geneva: Droz, 1971), 35 . For more on the medical and philosophical traditions in play, see the following three key works by Ian Maclean, each of which exemplifies a different approach to its themes: “Montaigne, Cardano: The Reading of Subtlety/The Subtlety of Reading,” French Studies 37 (2) (1983): 143–156 ; Logic, Signs and Nature in the Renaissance: The Case of Learned Medicine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001) ; and Le Monde et les hommes selon les médecins de la Renaissance (Paris: CNRS, 2006) .

Paré, Des Monstres , 35–37. For Paré’s sources and other versions of this tale, from Jerome to Erasmus, who notes that it is altogether absent from the Hippocratic corpus and so doubts its attribution to Hippocrates, see Céard’s note, 164.

It is one I have explored in some detail: see Monsters and Their Meanings , passim .

I, 21, 90 [104]: “l’estroite couture de l’esprit et du corps, s’entre-communiquant leurs fortunes.”

Antoine Compagnon , Chat en poche. Montaigne et l’allégorie (Paris: Seuil, 1993), 50 .

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citation dissertation montaigne

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book: The Complete Essays of Montaigne

The Complete Essays of Montaigne

  • Michel Eyquem Montaigne
  • Translated by: Donald M. Frame
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  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press
  • Copyright year: 1958
  • Audience: Professional and scholarly;
  • Main content: 908
  • Published: June 1, 1958
  • ISBN: 9780804780773

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Notes to Michel de Montaigne

1. Michel de Montaigne, Les Essais , published according to the “Exemplaire de Bordeaux” by Fortunat Strowski, Bordeaux 1906 and 1909; Georg Olms, Hildesheim/ New York, 1981.

2. II 37 F 696 “but only to vary, not to delete”; VS 758c “pour diversifier, non pour ôter”. The first reference, to the English text, is taken from Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Works. Essays, Travel Journal, Letters , translated by Donald M. Frame (noted F in the entry) Leland Stanford Junior University, 1948, renewed 1971 & 1976, Stanford University. The second reference, in French, is the edition by Pierre Villey, 1924, reedited by Victor-Louis Saulnier, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1965 (noted VS in the entry).

3. Chapter II 12: “Apologie de Raymond Sebond”.

4. Chapter I 31: “Des Cannibales”

5. See Screech 1998.

6. I 26, F 136; VS 152a: “suivant l’advis de Platon, qui dict la fermeté, la foy, la sincerité estre la vraye philosophie, les autres sciences et qui visent ailleurs, n’estre que fard.”

7. II 12 VS 540a ; F 489

8. II 12 VS 539a ; F 488

9. F 489: “We do not ask wether Galen said anything worth saying, but whether he said thus or otherwise”; VS II 12 540a: “On ne demande pas si Galen a rien dit qui vaille, mais s’il a dit ainsi ou autrement.”

10. See Alexandre Koyré, Du monde clos à l’univers infini , Paris, Gallimard, 1962.

11. I 26: “De l’institution des enfants”; “Of the Institution of Children”.

12. I,26 F 148; VS 164a.

13. I 1, F 5: “Truly man is a marvelously vain, diverse, and undulating object”; VS 9a. See also II 10 VS 413a.

14. I 26 F 143; VS 160a: “(…) que la philosophie, ce soit, jusques aux gens d’entendement, un nom vain et fantastique, qui se treuve de nul usage et de nul pris.”

15. I 50, F 266; VS 302c: “Tout mouvement nous découvre”.

16. II 16 VS 522c

17. I 25 “Du pedantisme”; “Of pedantry”.

18. I 30, VS 198c: “Calliclez, en Platon, dict l’extremité de la philosophie estre dommageable, et conseille de ne s’y enfoncer outre les bornes du profit ; que, prinse avec moderation, elle est plaisante et commode, mais qu’en fin elle rend un homme sauvage et vicieux, desdaigneux des religions et loix communes…”.

19. I 23 F 100 ; VS 115

20. I 26 F 140; VS 157a: “Il se tire une merveilleuse clarté, pour le jugement humain, de la fréquentation du monde”.

21. I 1 “Par divers moyens on arrive à pareille fin”.

22. I 23 F 96.

23. III 2, F 740; VS 804b: “Les autres forment l’homme, je le recite (…)”.

24. See M. Conche, 1996, chap. 1.

25. I 27, F 160: “It is folly to measure the true and false by our own capacity”.

26. III 8, F 860; VS 928b. “Ce n’est pas à qui mettra dedans, mais à qui fera les plus belles courses”.

27. II 12 F 553 ; VS 601a: “Et nous, et nostre jugement, et toutes choses mortelles, vont coulant et roulant sans cesse. … Nous n’avons aucune communication à l’estre….”

28. III 11, F 959; VS 1031; see also II,12, F 477: “I can see why the Pyrrhonian philosophers cannot express their general conception in any manner of speaking ; for they would need a new language. Ours is wholly formed of affirmative propositions….”

29. III 11, ibid .

30. See I 23, “Of custom, and not easily changing accepted law”, F 93–108.

31. See Entretien avec Mr de Sacy : the attribution of the text to Pascal is controversial. The relation of the text to Montaigne is commented by André Tournon, in La Glose et l’essai , 2001, p. 258.

32. See for ex. II 12 F 517: “Many times (as I sometimes do deliberately), having undertaken as exercise and sport to maintain an opinion contrary to my own, my mind, applying itself and turning in that direction, attaches me to it so firmly that I can no longer find the reason for my former opinion, and I abandon it.”

33. Popkin 1960, 1979, and 2003.

34. III 13 F 1041; VS 1113b: “Pour moy donc, j’ayme la vie et la cultive telle qu’il a pleu à Dieu nous l’octroier.”

35. Hugo Friedrich, Montaigne , Bern, Francke, 1947.

36. Montaigne had previously and rather conventionally blamed Cicero for vanity. See I,40, “Considerations on Cicero”. These attacks have been a commonplace since the quarrel of “ciceronianism”, which Erasmus had revived at the begining of the century.

37. Schmitt 1972.

38. Cicero, De Officiis , III, 4, 20

39. II 12, F 458; VS 509c: “toujours demandant en esmouvant la dispute, jamais l’arrestant, jamais satisfaisant”

40. I 26 F 144: “The surest sign of wisdom is constant cheerfulness”; VS 161c: “La plus expresse marque de la sagesse, c’est une esjouissance constante”.

41. I 23 F 99 ; VS 114a.

42. See Alciat, Cujas, Hotman, Pasquier, etc. See Franklin, Julian H., Jean Bodin and the Sixteenth-Century Revolution in the Methodology of Law and History , New York/London: Columbia Unviersity Press, 1963; A. Tournon, 1983; Z.S. Schiffman, On the Trehshold of Modernity: Relativism in the French Renaissance , Baltimore: John Hopkins U. Press, 1991.

43. P. Villey, 1933, p.326.

44. I 23, F 100; VS 115a: “Et somme, à ma fantaisie, il n’est rien qu’elle ne fasse, ou qu’elle ne puisse…”

45. III 13 F 1008: “It is for habit to give form to our life, just as it pleases; it is all-powerful in that; it is Circe’s drink, which varies our nature as it sees fit.” VS 1080a: “C’est à la coutume de donner forme à notre vie, telle qu’il lui plaît; elle peut tout en cela: c’est le breuvage de Circé, qui diversifie notre nature comme bon lui semble.”

46. I 23 F 100 ; VS 115c: “Les lois de la conscience, que nous disons naître de nature, naissent de la coutume: chacun ayant en vénération interne les opinions et mœurs approuvées et reçues autour de lui.” See also I,31, F 185: “I think there is nothing barbarous and savage in that nation, from what I have been told, except that each man calls barbarism whatever is not his own practice”; VS 205a.

47. Pascal: “Trois degrés d’élévation du pôle renversent toute la jurisprudence; un méridien décide de la vérité…. Vérité au deçà des Pyrénées, erreur au delà” (éd. Brunschvicg 294; éd. Lafuma 60); Montaigne, VS 579a.

48. I 26, F 140; VS 157a: “Nous sommes tous contraints et amoncellez en nous, et avons la veuë racourcie à la longueur de nostre nez.”

49. C. Lévi-Strauss, Histoire de lynx , chap. 18, “en relisant Montaigne”.

50. I 31, F 189; VS 209a: “Je pense qu’il y a plus de barbarie à manger un homme vivant qu’à le manger mort, à deschirer, par tourmens et par geénes, un corps encore plein de sentiment…”

51. I 31, F 189; VS 210a.

52. I 23, F 100: “Whence it comes to pass that what is off the hinges of custom, people believe to be off the hinges of reason: God knows how unreasonnably, most of the time”; VS 116c: “Par où il advient que ce qui est hors des gonds de coutume, on le croit hors des gonds de raison: Dieu sait combien déraisonnablement, le plus souvent.” I,23 F 100: “it is his soul that a wise man should withdraw from the crowd, maintaining its power and freedom freely to make judgements, whilst externally accepting all received forms and fashions”; VS 118a.

53. I 23, F 102: “Whoever wants to get rid of this violent prejudice of custom (…) when he refers things to truth and reason, he will fell his judgment as it were all upset, and nevertheless restored to a much surer status.” VS 117a: “Qui voudra se défaire de ce violent préjudice de la coutume (…) rapportant les choses à la vérité et à la raison, il sentira son jugement comme tout bouleversé, et remis pourtant en un bien plus sûr état.”

54. I 23, F 101; VS 116c: “donner un bon coup de fouet à la bêtise ordinaire de notre jugement”

55. See Pierre Charron, De la sagesse , book II, chap. 2.

56. Francis Bacon, The Major Works, Oxford University Press, 2008, Essays (Dedicatory Epistles to 1597 and 1612 editions), p. 545, 677–678.

57. Id., The Advancement of Learning, II, p. 235.

58. Discours de la Méthode , Gallimard, Pléiade p. 231: “J’employai le reste de ma jeunesse à voyager, à voir des cours et des armées, à fréquenter des gens de diverses humeurs et conditions, à recueillir diverses expériences, à m’éprouver moi-même dans les rencontres que la fortune me proposait, et partout à faire telle réflexion sur les choses qui se présentaient, que j’en pusse tirer quelque profit.”

59. Discours de la Méthode , p. 129: “Il est bon de savoir quelque chose des divers peuples, afin de juger des nôtres plus sainement, et que nous ne pensions pas que tout ce qui est contre nos modes soit ridicule et contre raison, ainsi qu’ont coutume de faire ceux qui n’ont rien vu (…).”

60. “(…) J’apprenais à ne rien croire trop fermement de ce qui ne m’avait été persuadé que par l’exemple et la coutume (…).”

61. “(…) et ainsi je me délivrais peu à peu de beaucoup d’erreurs qui peuvent offusquer notre lumière naturelle et nous rendre moins capables d’entendre raison”.

62. See Quentin Skinner, Visions of Politics. Volume 3: Hobbes and Civil Science, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2002; Gianni Paganini, Skepsis. Le débat des modernes sur le scepticisme (Montaigne, Le Vayer, Campanella, Hobbes, Descartes, Bayle), Paris, Vrin, 2008; Ferrari, Emiliano, & Gontier, Thierry, L’Axe Montaigne-Hobbes: anthropologie et politique, Paris, Classiques Garnier, 2016.

63. “Nous ne sommes jamais chez nous, nous sommes tousjours au delà. La crainte, le desir, l’esperance nous eslancent vers l’advenir” (I, 3, VS 15b); “Nos desirs rajeunissent sans cesse” (II, 28, VS 702a); II, 12, VS 485b.

64. Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, Oxford University Press, 1996, I, 11, p. 66.

65. The French civil war between Catholics and Protestants raged over the period from 1562 to 1598 (Edict of Nantes). In England, the struggle between Parliament and King Charles I resulted in a civil war extending from 1641 to 1651.

66. Leviathan, XIII, 9. For the Latin saying see De Cive, “Dedicatory Epistle”.

67. Montaigne, II, 19, VS 671a: here portraying Emperor Julian, Montaigne drew the same conclusion, having observed Christians’ “cruelty” during the French wars of religion.

68. See Montaigne, II, 12, VS 559; Hobbes, Leviathan, “Of Civil laws”, I, XXVI.

69. Montaigne, III, 13, VS 1072b : “Or les lois se maintiennent en credit, non par ce qu’elles sont justes, mais par ce qu’elles sont loix (…).”

70. I, 26, VS 155: “un effect de jugement et de sincerité”.

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Citations de Montaigne

Quelques citations de michel montaigne.

Si Michel Montaigne vivait au 21ème siècle, il tiendrait sans aucun doute un blog. Fondateur de l’ introspection , certes, mais aussi précurseur du scepticisme et du structuralisme.

Son amitié avec La Boétie est restée célèbre, citée comme l’une des plus fertiles collusions intellectuelles.

Montaigne est le Penseur de l’ amitié , de la modestie de l’homme sur son environnement, sa destinée (Dieu et la mort).

Montaigne, l’amitié et autrui :

– “Dans la véritable amitié, celui qui donne est l’obligé ; Tout y est abandon : deux âmes n’en font qu’une”

– “Mon opinion est qu’il faut se prêter à autrui et ne se donner qu’à soi-même”

– “Au contraire du commun des hommes, j’admets en nous plus facilement la différence que la ressemblance”

– “L’amitié, c’est une chaleur générale et universelle, tempérée, au demeurant, et égale”

– “Chacun appelle barbarie ce qui n’est pas de son usage”

– “Quand bien nous pourrions être savants du savoir d’autrui, au moins sages ne pouvons-nous être que de notre propre sagesse”

Montaigne et la subjectivité :

– “Tout homme porte en soi la forme entière de l’humaine condition”

– “C’est une perfection absolue et pour ainsi dire divine que de savoir jouir de son être”

– “J’aime mieux forger mon âme que la meubler”

– “La plupart de nos occupations sont comiques. Il faut jouer notre rôle comme il faut, mais comme le rôle d’un personnage emprunté”

– “Il est plus insupportable d’être toujours seul que de ne le pouvoir jamais être”

– “Nous vivons par hasard”

Montaigne et la mort :

– “A la vérité, pour s’apprivoiser  à la mort, je trouve qu’il n’y a que de s’en avoisiner”

– “La mort ne vous concerne ni mort ni vif: vif, parce que vous êtes; mort, parce que vous n’êtes plus”

– “ Philosopher, c’est apprendre à mourir ”

– “Il faut être toujours botté et prêt à partir”

Montaigne, les femmes et l’amour :

– “Au lit, la bonté prime la beauté”

– “Une jolie femme est le paradis des yeux !”

– “Les plaisirs de l’amour sont les seuls vrais plaisirs de la vie corporelle”

Montaigne et la sagesse :

– “C’est le jouir, non le posséder, qui nous rend heureux”

– “Tout ce qui peut être fait un autre jour, le peut être aujourd’hui”

– “La sagesse a ses excès et n’a pas moins besoin de modération que la folie”

– “La vie n’est en soi ni bien ni mal : c’est la place du bien et du mal selon que vous la leur faites”

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  • Ping : Essais de Montaigne (Résumé)

citation dissertation montaigne

comment peut on philosopher?

citation dissertation montaigne

Citation sur l’amour totalement erronée. Voici l’originale dans son contexte :

“Aux relations familières de la table, j’associe l’agréable, non le sérieux. Au lit, je préfère la beauté à la bonté. Et dans la conversation, la compétence, même sans la probité. Et ainsi de suite”

Chapitre “De l’amitié”, Livre I des Essais.

citation dissertation montaigne

La citation “Il est plus insupportable d’être toujours seul que de ne le pouvoir jamais être” est totalement inverse à ce que Montaigne a écrit !! Quelle erreur honteuse !!

Ci-dessous un extrait du texte d’origine:

Je n’ai rien jugé d’aussi rude dans l’austérité de vie que pratiquent nos religieux que ce que je vois dans leurs ordres : avoir pour règle une perpétuelle communauté de lieu et une assistance nombreuse de leurs compagnons en quelques actions que ce soit. Et je trouve en quelque sorte plus supportable d’être toujours seul que de ne pouvoir jamais l’être. (L3, III, p.1003/1004)

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La Citation et l’art de citer dans les Essais de Montaigne

La Citation et l’art de citer dans les Essais de Montaigne

  • Type de publication : Ouvrage
  • Auteur : Metschies (Michael)
  • Nombre de pages : 163
  • Parution : 29/06/2022
  • Réimpression de l’édition de : 1997
  • Collection : Études montaignistes , n° 29
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  • Thème CLIL : 4027 -- SCIENCES HUMAINES ET SOCIALES, LETTRES -- Lettres et Sciences du langage -- Lettres -- Etudes littéraires générales et thématiques
  • ISBN : 978-2-406-13328-5
  • EAN : 9782406133285
  • ISSN : 0986-492X
  • DOI : 10.15122/isbn.978-2-37312-734-8
  • Éditeur : Classiques Garnier
  • Mise en ligne : 15/09/2006
  • Langue : Français
  • Mots-clés : Littérature gréco-latine, néo-latin, philologie, philosophie, proverbe, imitatio, modernité, histoire littéraire, Humanisme, Littérature du XVIe siècle

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  1. Citations de Michel De Montaigne

    Liste des citations de Michel De Montaigne classées par thématique. La meilleure citation de Michel De Montaigne préférée des internautes. Retrouvez toutes les phrases célèbres de Michel De Montaigne parmi une sélection de + de 100 000 citations célèbres provenant d'ouvrages, d'interviews ou de discours. Lisez le TOP 10 des citations de Michel De Montaigne pour mieux comprendre sa ...

  2. Montaigne on Imagination

    This article explores aspects of Montaigne's imagination with a focus on questions of conception and generation, volition and cognition, human and animal being. Engaging critically with the reception of early modern theories of the imagination in both poetic and medical discourse, and with a set of now canonical essays in the field (I, 8; II ...

  3. Montaigne, Michel de

    Biography. Michel Eyquem de Montaigne was born in Saint-Michel-de-Montaigne in the Montaigne Family Chateau (Bordeaux) on February 28, 1533, and died in Saint-Michel-de-Montaigne in the Montaigne Family Chateau (Bordeaux) on September 13, 1592. Following the common usage among the French aristocracy, his family stored his heart in the church of ...

  4. Michel de Montaigne

    1. Life. Montaigne (1533-1592) came from a rich bourgeois family that acquired nobility after his father fought in Italy in the army of King Francis I of France; he came back with the firm intention of bringing refined Italian culture to France. He decorated his Périgord castle in the style of an ancient Roman villa.

  5. Michel de Montaigne

    Michel de Montaigne's educational thinking is rooted in his personal experience as a child who grew up in a noble family of Aquitaine during the sixteenth century, and as a student trained at the prestigious Collège de Guyenne in Bordeaux. During his early childhood, he was educated according to a pedagogical path designed by his father Pierre Eyquem de Montaigne and based on the humanistic ...

  6. Montaigne, Michel de

    Introduction. Michel Eychem de Montaigne (Château de Montaigne, Saint Michel de Montaigne, 1533-1592) was a free-thinking French philosopher, moralist, and humanist who has traditionally been credited with creating a new literary genre: the essay. From his earliest childhood, Montaigne received the teachings of humanist scholars invited to ...

  7. Quotation in Montaigne's Essais : communication across time and

    Michel de Montaigne. The Complete Essays, Citation 1991: translated by M. A. Screech, p. 1092. Unless otherwise stated, all translations of the French text and the Latin quotations are from this version. In a few cases, I have modified Screech's translation of the French or Latin to make the sense clear.

  8. Essays (Montaigne)

    The Essays (French: Essais, pronounced) of Michel de Montaigne are contained in three books and 107 chapters of varying length. They were originally written in Middle French and published in the Kingdom of France.Montaigne's stated design in writing, publishing and revising the Essays over the period from approximately 1570 to 1592 was to record "some traits of my character and of my humours."

  9. DataSpace: Roman Censorship and the Shaping of Montaigne's Essays

    About one year later, in 1582, Montaigne published a second edition of his book, revised and augmented. In this dissertation I discuss the textual changes and additions which appeared in this new edition as a direct result of Montaigne's trip to Rome, and particularly as a result of his interaction with the Roman censors.

  10. The Complete Essays of Montaigne

    This new translation of Montaigne's immortal Essays received great acclaim when it was first published in The Complete Works of Montaigne in the 1957 edition. The New York Times said, "It is a matter for rejoicing that we now have available a new translation that offers definite advantages over even the best of its predecessors," and The New Republic stated that this edition gives "a more ...

  11. Notes to Michel de Montaigne

    The first reference, to the English text, is taken from Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Works. Essays, Travel Journal, Letters, translated by Donald M. Frame (noted F in the entry) Leland Stanford Junior University, 1948, renewed 1971 & 1976, Stanford University. The second reference, in French, is the edition by Pierre Villey, 1924, reedited ...

  12. Essays

    Essays, work by the French writer and philosopher Michel de Montaigne (1533-92) that established a new literary form, the essay. The first two volumes of the Essais ( Essays) were published in 1580; a third volume was published in 1588, along with enlarged editions of the first two. In his Essays, Montaigne wrote one of the most captivating ...

  13. Pratique de la citation dans les 'Essais' de Montaigne

    Je"recite" l'homme, je le raconte, nous dit Montaigne au début de l'essai. "Du repentir" (III, II, 782b).1 Je récite l'homme et je cite les Anciens, aurait- il pu ajouter. Dans sa mémorable étude,2 Hugo Friedrich commente. ainsi l'attitude de Montaigne à l'égard des Anciens : "Il ne les lit pas pour.

  14. Essayists on the Essay: Montaigne to Our Time

    People also read lists articles that other readers of this article have read.. Recommended articles lists articles that we recommend and is powered by our AI driven recommendation engine.. Cited by lists all citing articles based on Crossref citations. Articles with the Crossref icon will open in a new tab.

  15. Citations de Montaigne

    Quelques citations de Michel Montaigne. Si Michel Montaigne vivait au 21ème siècle, il tiendrait sans aucun doute un blog.Fondateur de l'introspection, certes, mais aussi précurseur du scepticisme et du structuralisme. Son amitié avec La Boétie est restée célèbre, citée comme l'une des plus fertiles collusions intellectuelles.. Montaigne est le Penseur de l'amitié, de la ...

  16. Michel de Montaigne summary

    essay Summary. Essay, an analytic, interpretative, or critical literary composition usually much shorter and less systematic and formal than a dissertation or thesis and usually dealing with its subject from a limited and often personal point of view. Some early treatises—such as those of Cicero on the. Michel de Montaigne, (born Feb. 28 ...

  17. Essays of Michel de Montaigne

    The Essays of Michel de Montaigne (1877) is a collection of essays and letters by Michel de Montaigne. Originally published in French as Essais (1580), this edition was translated by English poet Charles Cotton in the late-17th century and republished by William Carew Hazlitt, the grandson of renowned English essayist and critic William Hazlitt. "No man living is more free from this passion ...

  18. Montaigne, Les Essais

    Search the full text of Montaigne's Essais using the PhiloLogic™ search engine: Click Here for the Full Text Search Form. Click Here to search for and view high-resolution images through the mirador viewing platform. Click on the links below to browse the Essais by chapter title: Click Here to view paratextual page images from the Essais.

  19. How to Cite a Dissertation in APA Style

    To cite an unpublished dissertation (one you got directly from the author or university in print form), add "Unpublished" to the bracketed description, and list the university at the end of the reference, outside the square brackets. APA format. Author last name, Initials. ( Year ).

  20. 560 citations de Michel de Montaigne

    Trouvez une citation de Michel de Montaigne : une phrase, un proverbe, une maxime, une réflexion, une formule ou bon mot, un dicton ou une expression tirée de ses romans, de courts extraits de ses livres, essais, discours ou interviews. Une sélection de 560 citations de Michel de Montaigne .

  21. PDF DU TEXTE DES ESSAIS DE MONTAIGNE* Sophie P

    SCHIES, La Citation et l'art de citer dans lesEssais de Montaigne. Trad. de l'allemand par Jules BRODY. Paris, Honoré Champion, 1997. 15 × 22,5, 167 p. (Études montaignistes, 29); Montaigne et Marie de Gournay. Actes du colloque internationl de Duke, 31 mars-1er avril 1995, réunis et présentés par Marcel TETEL. Paris, Honoré Champion ...

  22. La Citation et l'art de citer

    Avec l'avènement des Essais, la citation est appelée pour la première fois à se plier aux exigences d'une nouvelle écriture personnelle. L'originalité de la pratique de Michel de Montaigne est mise en perspective par l'analyse du statut de la citation en littérature, de l'Antiquité classique à la Renaissance.