The Fabulous Imagination: On Montaigne’s Essays (review)


Some studies of Montaigne attempt to understand the subjectivity at the heart of the Essays by reading them within a specific historical or cultural context. Lawrence Kritzman’s Fabulous Imagination opts for a different strategy: reading the Essays from a personal and modern point of view. Even if Kritzman’s critical point of view does remain grounded in the twenty-first century, the Fabulous Imagination does not, however, try to make Montaigne a citizen of the twenty-first century: the Essays remain resolutely in the sixteenth century. The methodological structure would seem to follow, consciously or unconsciously, that adopted by Montaigne in De la phisionimie (III, 12), in which the author of the Essays, through his own experiences, questions Socrates’s model, in order to imitate it, to make it his own (151). In the same way, Kritzman, through his own experiences, questions the textual space created by Montaigne in order to imitate it and make it his own.

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