Monday, October 18, 2010


Sometimes the classics seem awfully musty. Other times, they are as vital as the morning newspaper. In a review of a new biography, we revisit the world of Michel de Montaigne, which doesn't have even a hint of mustiness. 'Montaigne invented the personal essay, that unpredictable and strangely addictive literary form devoted, as Bakewell puts it, to "re-creating a sequence of sensations as they felt from the inside, following them from instant to instant." Montaigne constantly revised and expanded "Essays" throughout his life; it was never really finished. "I do not portray being," he wrote, "I portray passing. Not the passing from one age to another ... but from day to day, from minute to minute." More...

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