This is an impressive collection of essays by Ian Maclean’s colleagues and students, a future landmark study like Ian Maclean and I. D. McFarlane’s earlier edited book, Montaigne: Essays in Memory of Richard Sayce (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982). The book grew out of a series of meetings of contributors, and this has produced an exceptionally well conceived and coherent collection. It focuses on the creation and consumption of the Essais through two pairs of critical concepts — genesis and production, and diffusion and reception — which the contributors explore and question, offering a subtle and complicated view of book and reception history and rethinking the ordinary limits of intertextuality in the process. Chapters examine how the Essais move forwards and backwards in time, how they anticipate and rewrite themes and commonplaces, and how they continue to speak to readers today. The book’s theme, defined by the editors in their Introduction as ‘the “transit” of [Montaigne’s] work through time, space, language, discipline, and genre’ (p. 2), builds on important work on movement in the Essais, while allowing time and space for innovative and varied methodologies and techniques of reading, from Terence Cave’s cognitive criticism (deployed to explore how Montaigne’s embodied thought is enacted on the page) to Warren Boutcher’s division of ‘Des cannibales’ into rhetorical periods, showing the shape of Montaigne’s Ciceronian training more clearly to unversed modern readers. Intertextuality is persuasively re-imagined as influence, buried or explicit, in many of the chapters: Rowan Tomlinson on Angelo Poliziano’s eclectic humanism and its overlooked undertow; Kathy Eden on Erasmus’s rhetoric of the face; and Emma Herdman on the provocations and pleasures of Juvenal for women readers. Other chapters explore the effects and mutations of the Essais over time: Kate Tunstall on the power of the will and of the imagination in Diderot, Montaigne, and Augustine; and Timothy Chesters on Flaubert’s reading of the Journal de voyage. A real strength of the collection is its geographical reach, covering responses to the Essais in Germany and Britain: Valerie Worth-Stylianou on the treatment of Montaigne’s Latin quotations by his English translator, John Florio, and his French editor, Marie de Gournay; John O’Brien on Christoph Besold’s reading of the Essais as part of a shared intellectual and legal tradition; Ingrid De Smet on Isaac D’Israeli’s reading of Montaigne, refracted through translations, collections of ana, and compilations; Kathryn Murphy on Montaigne and Robert Burton’s shared interest in the particular; and Colin Barrow on Montaignian moments of reflection and the performance of thought in Shakespeare. Others offer a thematic focus, exploring the flexibility of a theme and how it is turned over and inside out in the Essais’s meandering progress: Chimène Bateman on how marriage is questioned and problematized; and Frank Lestringant on the shifts and mingling of vanity, travel, and writing. As Ian Maclean points out in his Afterword, many of these contributions feature the ‘triangulation’ of the Essais with a reader and a shared antecedent (p. 259), fracturing the familiar story of sources and intertexts. This rich and rigorous collection is a proud tribute to the different directions and approaches inspired by Ian Maclean’s work, and a valuable addition to Montaigne and early modern studies. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for French Studies. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: email@example.com
French Studies – Oxford University Press
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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