Essaying Montaigne: A Study of the Renaissance Institution of Writing and Reading

Essaying Montaigne: A Study of the Renaissance Institution of Writing and Reading

Hardback Liverpool University Press - Studies in European Regional Cu

By (author) John O'Neill


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  • Publisher: Liverpool University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 272 pages
  • Dimensions: 158mm x 236mm x 31mm | 567g
  • Publication date: 1 January 2002
  • Publication City/Country: Liverpool
  • ISBN 10: 0853239967
  • ISBN 13: 9780853239963
  • Edition: 2
  • Edition statement: 2nd Revised ed.
  • Sales rank: 493,204

Product description

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 Boetie 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.

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Author information

Professor John O'Neill is Distinguished Research Professor of Sociology at York University, Toronto, a Member of the Centre for Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Table of contents

Preface to the revised edition To the Reader 1 Society and Self-study: the Problem of Literary Authority 2 Literary Anxiety and the Romance of Books 3 Rival Readings 4 Writing and Embodiment 5 Reading and Temperament 6 The Paradox of Communication: Reading the Essays Otherwise 7 Portrait of the Essayist Without Qualities 8 On Public and Private Life 9 Civilisation, Literacy and Barbarianism 10 On Living and Dying as We Do Notes Bibliography Index