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Montaigne on Friendship, Liars and Politics – Scripturient
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Who wrote this essay? Montaigne says that true friendship is only possible in certain contexts, specifically male non-familial, non-professional relationships. Is female friendship different from male friendship? For Montaigne, friendship is a spiritual practice rooted in divulgence and sharing.
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Do you have an outlet to divulge your spirit? What does that feel like? Is it possible to become so comfortable with your own death that you become less afraid of it? This blog really helped me put what I was reading into better context and understand why Montaigne wrote the way he did. Thank you. Close search. Kir Sonoma November 16, Oh, a friend! For at least one person did contact Montaigne upon reading the Essays. He was, moreover, an extremely capable reader, already an accomplished scholar of the classics, and, like Montaigne, deeply interested in the revived fortunes of stoicism.
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In the early s, the full flower of Lipsius' celebrity still lay ahead, but Montaigne clearly enjoyed playing mentor to his younger associates. The Essays' apotheosis, too, lay in the future, but the longer, bolder essays that Montaigne had now begun for the third volume bespeak not only his new-found confidence as a writer, but, also, considerable literary ambition. It seems that Montaigne should have experienced no trouble playing a writerly older brother to the mercurial, ambitious Lipsius. Further, Lipsius was championing a trend toward Silver Age Latin, or Tacitean, prose, and, in his laconic, clipped writing, Montaigne could have found a neo-Latin sibling for his own French style.
He lived many hundreds of leagues distant, so there was little chance that mutual idealization would flounder upon the shoals of everyday familiarity. O un amy! Combien est vraye cette ancienne sentence, que l'usage en est plus necessaire et plus doux que des elemens de l'eau et du feu" III. Max Patrick and Robert O. Evans, with John M. Wallace and R. Lipsius' wandering between Protestant and Catholic allegiances, criticized as opportunistic by some, might even have struck Montaigne as a laudatory aptitude for adaptation, or, in the very least, a conditional loyalty congenial to his own nuanced and heavily qualified views on political and religious affiliation.
Montaigne and Lipsius shared interests, favorite authors, even dispositions. The two men shared so much to talk about, in fact, that the surviving letters cannot help but disappoint. Perhaps there was too much to talk about. Perhaps this was, in the end, what made Montaigne uncomfortable at the idea of engaging in a friendship with Lipsius. Lipsius was seeking more than literary mentoring from Montaigne--he was looking for recognition on something like an equal footing.
Write me honestly--as the candid man you are--what you think of [my Politica]. And vain is the undertaking of him who presumes to embrace both causes and consequences and to lead by the hand the progress of his affair--vain especially in the 73 The School of Montaigne in Early Modern Europe Oxford: Oxford University Press, , 1: Magnien, op. In one passage in particular, Montaigne deliberately sets himself at odds with this would-be friend. Lipsius opened the military books of his Politica responding to an objection: how can a scholar like himself hope to address practical questions of warfare?
Montaigne explicitly mentioned Lipsius in passing only twice in the essays-- something short of the dedication or more lengthy citation Lipsius had sought. This does not apply to compilations that are published as compilations [ Delas, , 87v, 88v, trans. Field, for W.
Ponsonby, , , Praising him for a work he had not written--and perhaps would have been incapable of writing--while passing silently over the ones he did, seems disingenuous. This was surely meant more to bury than to praise Lipsius. One wonders what Lipsius would have thought in encountering these passing slights, subtle digs, and faint words of praise as he read the new edition of the Essays. Cecy ne touche pas des centons qui se publient pour centons: et j'en ay veu de tres-ingenieux en mon temps, entre autres un, sous le nom de Capilupus, outre les anciens.
Le bel ouvrage et utile que ce seroit" II. Dusoir et al. Antwerp: Museum Plantin-Moretus, , He later admitted to an acquaintance that he had kept only a "few" letters from Montaigne, others he had passed on to a friend; if he can find in them anything interesting, he promises, he will convey it. But despite publishing this promise, he said nothing more about them. The Company of Women At home in his family chateau during retirement, Montaigne found himself surrounded by women.
His mother, who outlived him, continued to reside there among the many servants who had taken orders from her long before they had had to listen to her son. But noble women such as the five to whom Montaigne dedicated individual chapters of his work, could wield great influence, particularly in the aristocratic settings in which Montaigne exercised the latter part of his political career. There, would he have needed to maintain multiple weak ties? Conversely, would he have perceived a need to establish a counterbalancing perfect female friend? Aubry, 2; Geneva: Slatkine, , 1: lxxii-iv.
I owe this section to a number of fine questions by Rebecca Wilkin. Jean Marchand Paris: Arts Graphiques, , The first sister did not marry until 28 septembre ; the second until 2 September There, he let her take by dictation four additions he made to the Essays, when he found his hands too swollen from complications from urinary infections to write for himself. As a highly educated woman struggling to establish a literary career in an age that regarded neither role very highly, she may have found permission to write by hitching her fortunes to Montaigne's.
It might have seemed to many, perhaps even to Montaigne himself, that Gournay needed him more than he did her. But, although history has tended to treat Gournay as a sort of accessory after the fact, Montaigne would depend on her far more than he might have guessed. His affection could not have been better placed. As it was, the thousands of modifications to punctuation never made it into print.
In all, Gournay helped put twenty-two subsequent editions into the hands of Montaigne's posthumous readers.
As importantly, perhaps, she championed her mentor's writings against critics and to everyone who would listen over the succeeding half century. She was the first reader to transform Montaigne into an institution. Whether her ardent defense helped or hurt readers' perception of Montaigne mattered less than the fact that she kept his name topical in the day's literary debates during what might otherwise have been a very difficult patch in the Essays' fortunes.
The book could, in effect, have suffered the fate of so many of those written by Montaigne's contemporaries, prematurely jettisoned from libraries and reading lists in the name of Malherbe's language reforms. When she at last bade farewell to their "orphan," as she called the book, she no longer needed to worry about its success.
It had now become the favorite bedside book of countless admirers who found in Montaigne a confidant and an archetype for their own burgeoning sense of self.
Supple Paris: Champion, , Thickett , She is the only person I still think about in the world. If youthful promise means anything, her soul will some day be capable of the finest things, among others of perfection in that most sacred kind of friendship which, so we read, her sex has not yet been able to attain.
The sincerity and firmness of her character are already sufficient, her affection for me more than superabundant, and such, in short, that it leaves nothing to be desired, unless that her apprehension about my end, in view of my fifty-five years when I met her, would not torment her so cruelly. The judgment she made of the first Essays, she a woman, and in this age, and so young, and alone in her district, and the remarkable eagerness with which she loved me and wanted my friendship for a long time, simply through the esteem she formed for me before she had seen me, is a phenomenon very worthy of consideration.
But one can conceive other scenarios. Had Montaigne expressed these sentiments in a personal letter to Gournay, the implicitly public character of epistolary practice at the time might have justified their retrospective inclusion by her in the Essays. Je ne regarde plus qu'elle au monde. But beneath the idealism and the conventionality lies an entirely pessimistic and nearly misanthropic vision of human relations. Disputes over inheritance will turn father against son.
Brothers are bound to become rivals.