The Perspicacious Michel de Montaigne

For a long time now, I have been acquainted with the essays of Michel de Montaigne.  In college, one of my professors, the learned and affable Justin A. Jackson of Hillsdale College, included a few of this man’s essays in the second semester of the Great Books prerequisite.  Professor Jackson considered him to be the first truly modern author–if memory serves me right.  (If memory has played me false, I tender my apologies to the astute professor.)  The reason was Montaigne’s preoccupation with the self or rather himself, which created essays of a highly personal nature.  Rather than establish himself as an authority, he writes these essays merely to put forth his subjective opinion.

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Yet, Montaigne’s ability to adduce an unlimited amount of examples upon the subject of the essay astounds the reader.  He has a mastery of the writers of Classical antiquity and a thorough knowledge of Medieval and Renaissance history in particular.  In this regard, reading him is very similar to reading the works of St. Francis de Sales, who can allude to many anecdotes and scenes in history to explain spiritual truths better.  Both men have the effect of making me wish that I had spent more time reading and less playing video games.  It must have been a great help to Montaigne to have had his father teach him Latin as his first language rather than French!  I rather wonder what effect it might have on a child to have Cicero, Virgil, and Julius Caesar as more accessible than the Berenstain Bears or similar children’s literature!

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Collection of Old Articles

I mentioned that I originally started blogging on Medieval Otaku.  Here are links to the articles I wrote on literature and history.  I hope that you enjoy them.

Literature

C. S. Forester Has a New Fan

Conan the Barbarian, Light Reading, and the Wholesomeness of Myth

Anton Chekhov and Suicide

Still Alive and a Little on the Inferno

The Forgotten Socrates

Encore Une Autre Raison D’Etre Pour Fiction

Finally!  The Adventures of Captain Hatteras Reviewed

The Timeliness of Books and the Insidiousness of Vanity

The Best of Basho

World’s Most Popular Vet

Ever Read a Jules Verne Novel?

Fiction’s Raison D’Etre(I’m very proud of this one)

Review of Okakura’s The Book of Tea

Natsume Soseki’s Ten Nights of Dreams

Now for the two history posts.  I really did not cover much of that did I?

Review of Steel Boat, Iron Hearts

The Awesome Charlemagne and a Short Hiatus

 

I hope that everyone finds a few articles that appeal to them!

Beginning That Hideous Strength

Since the site’s tagline claims that this is a blog started by two Inklings fans, it seems appropriate that the first article concerns a work of C. S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy.  That Hideous Strength ends the trilogy, coming after Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra.  One of my best friends, the co-author of this blog and owner of Dusty Thanes, has often encouraged me to read this work.  After a long time of persuasion, I read the first work in my junior or senior year of college.  To speak truly, Out of the Silent Planet failed to impress me too much.   Perelandra, however, with its new temptation story and spellbinding cosmological vision, easily may be counted a masterpiece.

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Yet, I waited two years before attempting to read the book following this master work.  This reading was stalled early as I became distracted by other things, and so I am now attempting to read it again.  This work is supposed to be the best of the three too!  Yet, compared with the other two novels with their beautifully fantastic vision of Mars and Venus, the last book starts by focusing on the every day existence of Britishers.  So much so that his wife mentions that Mark slept as soon as his head hit the pillow with one exception: “Only one thing ever seemed able to keep him awake after he had gone to bed, and even that did not seem to keep him awake for very long.”

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Mentioning sex in addition to the ordinary life of a stay at home mom and politics in educational institutions gives this story more of the feel of a modern novel.  You might exclaim: “It is a modern novel!!!”  But, the most popular works of the Inklings, especially when one considers the Chronicles of Narnia, all tended to have a more extraordinary feel to the extent that the banality of every day existence tends to be avoided or the characters’ ordinary existence is so removed from us as to render it fantastic, like the hobbits of Hobbiton.  I think that describing these ordinary details is what turned me off from finishing it the first time.  (Yes, I did not get very far.)  This time, I am keeping the fact that Merlin makes an appearance in the novel in mind, and I’m very eager to read about C. S. Lewis’s treatment of him.

Stay tuned for a proper review of this novel in the future!  And I hope that you will look forward to other articles on this site!

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