Everything you need to have a beautiful morning, sleepyhead.

Daily Lit: Essays by MICHEL DE MONTAIGNE

on December 29, 2011


What is human nature? What can a single person know of himself, the world around him, or even of God? Since their publication in 1580, Montaigne’s Essays have been a fixture in the field of philosophy. With himself as his primary subject, Montaigne set out to observe and reflect on his experiences as an individual and as a member of society. HisEssays address many timeless questions about human potential and limitations, religious belief, personal freedom, love, and marriage. The simplicity and honesty of this work guaranteed that many generations to come—whether students, philosophers, or politicians—would look to Montaigne’s Essays to spark their curiosity, give them pause for thought, or inspire them to reflect on the big picture of human life and civilization.


Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) was a French Renaissance writer and philosopher. Born into a wealthy family, with ancestors from France and Spain, Montaigne led an ambitious life from earliest childhood. His father sent him to live with a poor rural family during his first years as a way to teach the young boy to connect with others in need. Once he returned home, Montaigne dove into an intensive educational program supervised by his father. His early experience had given him awareness of the variety of social situations and lifestyles in human culture. His schooling trained him for a life of intellectual exploration. As a young man, he devoted himself entirely to study in his family’s grand estate. His dedication to careful and thorough work allowed him to complete his philosophical masterpiece, a collection of essays on human nature. Montaigne’s Essays brought him the respect and trust of various political leaders and French citizens. He was elected mayor of his hometown of Bordeaux during a difficult time of conflict between Catholics and Protestants. Respected by his townspeople and having already established his legacy in French philosophy, Montaigne died in 1592.

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