Traversing the Democratic Borders of the Essay by Cristina Kirklighter

By Cristina Kirklighter

Extends the borders of essay scholarship by means of examining Latin American and Latino/a essayists along eu and American ones.

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Such spontaneity would be condusive to affording him the needed explorations so vital to a man of this rapidly changing Renaissance world. For readers to further understand why Montaigne became enamoured with this writing form necessitates an exploration of the historical influences that framed his time. Michael Hall offers a historical perspective on why the Renaissance period (the age of discovery and 24 Traversing the Democratic Borders of the Essay invention) may have influenced these writers to rebel against the dispositio and instead use a writing form that encouraged personal exploration and invention (74).

Indeed, as Dorothea Heitsch claims in “Nietzche and Montaigne: Concepts of Style,” some of the most revered philosophers of our time, like Nietzche, emulated Montaigne’s anti-Ciceronian style and worked to “dismantle scholastic rhetoric” (414). Montaigne’s conversational and nonconforming rhetorical style may from first appearances be simplistic or even “silly” as some of his contemporaries claimed (Joseph Justice Scaliger 1540–1609), but below the surface it would profoundly influence future intellectuals who could decipher its rhetorical magnitude (Brody 96).

S. Khare, Tzevetan Todorov, and Deborah Losse to name just a few) label Montaigne as one of the perpetrators in forming the noble savage in the Americas. Their claim is grounded in the idea that Montaigne only used these privileged accounts of the New World as a way of improving his own. They claim that these accounts represented an outlet for Montaigne’s nostalgic view of a more primitive time in Europe. However, such interpretations of Montaigne do not seem to be in sync with his skeptical eye for critiquing multiple societies and individuals.

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