Thu, 19 May 2011
Colin Marshall talks to Sarah Bakewell, author of biographies on Jorgen Jorgenson, Margaret Caroline Rudd, and, most recently, the 16th-century French essayist Michel de Montaigne. How to Live, or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer examines the life of a man whose life you'd have thought was already pretty damned well examined. More remains to learn, it turns out, even after Montaigne himself wrote three volumes of personal essays which have attained over 400 years of success and counting. Bakewell finds a man who, despite revealing no end of personal detail and disclosing no end of his own opinions, paraxodically becomes near-universally relatable to the reading public across the world and through time. Yet could he have achieved this not in spite of his essays' specificity, but because of it?