Montaigne, Michel (Eyquem) de

born Feb. 28, 1533, Château de Montaigne, near Bordeaux, France
died Sept. 23, 1592, Château de Montaigne

French courtier and author.

Born into the minor nobility, Montaigne received an excellent Classical education (speaking only Latin up to age 6) before studying law and serving as counselor at the Bordeaux Parliament. There he met the lawyer Étienne de La Boétie, with whom he formed an extraordinary friendship; the void left by La Boétie's death in 1563 likely led Montaigne to begin his writing career. He retired to his château in 1571 to work on his Essais (1580, 1588), a series of short prose reflections on many subjects that form one of the most captivating and intimate self-portraits ever written. At once deeply critical of his time and deeply involved in its struggles, he sought understanding through self-examination, which he developed into a description of the human condition and an ethic of authenticity, self-acceptance, and tolerance. Though most of his later years were devoted to writing, he occasionally served as mediator in episodes of religious conflict in his region and beyond, and served as mayor of Bordeaux during the troubled period 1581–85. See also essay.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Montaigne, Michel Eyquem de — (1533 1592)    writer    Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, who introduced the essay as a literary form, was born in the château of Montaigne near Libourne, to a wealthy family. Fluent in Latin at an early age, he went to study at the Collège de Guyenne …   France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present

  • Montaigne,Michel Eyquem de — Mon·taigne (mŏn tānʹ, môn tĕnʹyə), Michel Eyquem de. 1533 1592. French essayist whose discursive, lively personal essays are considered the highest expression of 16th century French prose. * * * …   Universalium

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