Montaigne and Tasso.
August 29, 2008


The picture is supposed to be Montaigne and Tasso. I don’t know if the two ever really met, but when I Googled for an image of Montaigne, I liked this one better than the portrait.

The reading assignment was Montaigne’s letter to the reader, Of Cannibals, Of Repentance, and Of Experience. Montaigne is rather like Cliff Clavin from Cheers. He’s chatty, and rambles on a bit. Unlike Cliff he knows, within the limits of his era, what he’s talking about. He’d be good to sit down, and have a drink with, but you wouldn’t invite him to a dinner party because he’d dominate the conversation, and bore everyone to death.

Of Cannibals seems to have a rather curious kind of relativism. I should say that Montaigne never actually discusses the act of eating human flesh. The cannibal is more or less an ancestor of the noble savage. I think the point here is not so much to laud the cannibal as to shame the civilized European.

Next up, is Francis Bacon, Novum Organum.