High Renaissance in Northern Europe - Literature - Michel de Montaigne

6 important questions on High Renaissance in Northern Europe - Literature - Michel de Montaigne

Who was Michel de Montaigne and when did he live.

Michel de Montaigne (1533-2592) was a French politician, humanist and most famous for his Essays.

Which literature genre did Michel de Montaigne create and what does this genre entail?

He created the essais (Essays).
Essai in French means trial or attempt. The genre is about asking questions and giving the reader an impulse to think about certain things.

Montaigne wrote three books of essays.
Where is each book about?

  • First book contained numerous quotations from antiquity.
  • The second book, he relied less on the authority of the past and more on expressing his own views and voice.
  • In his last book he sparingly used quotations, presenting an original self-portrait.
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"No man ever treated of a subject that he new and understood better than I do this ... And in this I am the most learned man alive".
In which book does Michel de Montaigne say this and what does he mean by this?

  • Wrote it in 'Of Experience'.
  • He meant that he wrote about himself because on knows himself better than anyone else.

The most recurring quote in the works of Michel de Montaigne is: "Que sas-je".
What does it mean and why is this representative for de Montaigne's work?

It means "What do I know?"
It is typical of de Montaigne's work, because he was more concerned with asking questions than providing answers. He believed that chance and intention could (and should) change in one's lifetime.  Therefore it's impossible to give conclusive answers about matters.

The work of Michel de Montaigne is regarded a landmark of Renaissance and humanism.
Which two aspects of his work attribute most to this claim?

  • His search for questions rather than answers.
  • His affirmation of the indiviual.

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