One essay was "The Apology for Raymond Sebond," which reflected Montaigne's Christian skepticism. Another was "On Friendship," inspired by Montaigne's relationship with the late Étienne de la Boétie, whom he had befriended at the Bordeaux parliament. Montaigne's first two volumes of Essais (Essays) were published in 1580.
His father's death also meant that Montaigne inherited the familial estate. In 1571, Montaigne retreated to his castle and isolated himself from public life. He also began to write personal and subjective reflections on topics such as religion, education, friendship, love and freedom. Montaigne called his original work essais, which means "attempts" in French. He developed a new literary genre: the essay.
A third volume of Montaigne's essays was included in the fifth edition of his work, which came out in 1588. Many of the pieces in the first two volumes had also been edited and refined. Montaigne further revised his work during his last years, which he spent at his estate. At the age of 59, Montaigne died in Château de Montaigne on September 13, 1592.
While in Italy in 1581—where he had been seeking treatment for his kidney stones—Montaigne was informed he had been elected mayor of Bordeaux. He served as mayor from 1581 to 1585, moderating conflicts between Protestants and Catholics. During this time, a second edition of Essays arrived in 1582.
Both before and after his death, Montaigne's essays were widely read. His beliefs—such as his skepticism and cultural relativism—sparked both discussion and criticism. Many writers and philosophers were influenced by Montaigne, including Voltaire, Jean Jacques Rousseau and Gustave Flaubert.
Let us leave that other sect, that sets up an express profession of scornful superiority: but when even in that sect, reputed the most quiet and gentle, we hear these rhodomontades of Metrodorus:—
It can only be the more beneficial to Montaigne, as faras concerns his being-in-the-twentieth-century, that this sort of identity isin line with our current biological and lingustic ideas.I could conclude this essay by writingtriumphantly: "Montaigne lives!"But he himself has already said so on page one, in myepigraph.
Born into a French family of minor nobility on February 28, 1533, Michel de Montaigne held a seat in the Bordeaux parliament. Montaigne retired from public life and began to write a series of philosophical and personal essays in 1571. This writing was the first of its kind, making Montaigne responsible for the establishment of the essay as a literary genre. He died in France on September 13, 1592.