Montaigne (1533-92) is commonly regarded as an early modern sceptic, standing at the threshold of a new secular way of thinking. He is also known for his ground-breaking exploration of the 'subject' or the 'self'. Terence Cave discusses these and other key aspects of Montaigne's Essais not as philosophical themes but as features in the mapping of a mental landscape: the project of the Essais is cognitive rather than philosophical. Similarly, he reads the Essais not as 'essays' in the literary sense but as 'trials' or 'soundings' in which the manner of writing - the shape of the sentences, the use of metaphors and other figures - is crucial. Taking passages from many different chapters of the Essais, this book guides the reader through Montaigne's investigation of the 'subtle shades and stirrings' of the mind.
Terence Cave is Emeritus Professor of French Literature at the University of Oxford, Emeritus Research Fellow of St John's College, Oxford and a Fellow of the British Academy.