Chapter

Reading and Writing Intimately in Montaigne's <i>Essais</i>

Kathy Eden

in The Renaissance Rediscovery of Intimacy

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780226184623
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226184647 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226184647.003.0005
Reading and Writing Intimately in Montaigne's Essais

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Erasmian reform, whether educational or religious, takes epistolary writing and reading as its point of departure. The Erasmian Christian approaches Scripture as a letter reader would the long-awaited communication of a sorely missed friend. Recent scholarship on Montaigne addresses in some detail both the Petrarchan and the Erasmian aspects of the essay, including its dependence on epistolary form. Addressing the challenges of reading a favorite French historian in the essay about conversation, Montaigne shifts the focus of attention from rhetoric to hermeneutics. Montaigne admits to finding mostly irritation in household management and to feeling more at ease in somebody else's home. Grounded in the expression of thoughts and feelings freely and openly exchanged in conversation between friends, this rhetorical and hermeneutic intimacy finds its earliest and most ardent Renaissance spokesmen among epistolary writers and readers whose practice as well as theory serves, in turn, as a model for writing and reading more generally.

Keywords: Erasmian; Montaigne; rhetoric; hermeneutics; intimacy; Renaissance

Chapter.  10728 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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