Essaying Montaigne: a study of the Renaissance institution of writing and reading

Front Cover
Liverpool University Press, Jul 1, 2001 - History - 264 pages
John O'Neill reads Montaigne's Essays from their central principle of friendship as a communicative and pedagogical practice operative in society, literature and politics. The friendship between Montaigne and La Boétie was ruled neither by plenitude nor lack but by a capacity for recognition and transitivity. As an essayist Montaigne is an exemplary practitioner of a technique of difference and recognition that puts all certainties of history, philosophy and culture in the balance of weighted comparison. The essayist reveals how every absolute subjectivity or authority is shaken by its internal weakness once we move inside the contrastive structure of domination in politics, gender and race. O'Neill's reading of the Essays strives to be faithful to the phenomenology of their embodied practices of reading-to-write-to re-read and re-write. From this standpoint he engages the principal critical readings of the Essays over the last century that have examined with great brilliance their history, structure and psychology. Whether the structure is evolutionary, structuralist, Marxist or psychoanalytical, O'Neill provides close readings of Montaigne's literary critics. By bringing to bear the ethico-critical practice of 'essaying' to resist the subjection of the Essays to dominant criticism, O'Neill reminds readers that Montaigne's appeal is in how he survived bloody cultural war with a balance of modesty and tolerance, invoking compromise where others practice violence.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

Preface to the revised edition
9
the Problem of Literary Authority
17
Literary Anxiety and the Romance of Books
43
Copyright

11 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2001)

John ONeill is a distinguished research professor emeritus in the Department of Sociology at York University.

Bibliographic information