Montaignes English Journey: Reading the Essays in Shakespeares Day

Montaignes English Journey: Reading the Essays in Shakespeares Day by William M. Hamlin

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Montaignes English Journey examines the genesis, early readership, and multifaceted impact of John Florios exuberant translation of Michel de Montaignes Essays. Published in London in 1603, this book was widely read in seventeenth-century England: Shakespeare borrowed from it as he drafted King Lear and The Tempest, and many hundreds of English men and women first encountered Montaignes tolerant outlook and disarming candour inits densely-printed pages. Literary historians have long been fascinated by the influence of Florios translation, analysing its contributions to the development of the English essay and tracing its appropriation in the work of Webster, Dryden, and other major writers. William M. Hamlin, by contrast, undertakes an exploration ofFlorios Montaigne within the overlapping realms of print and manuscript culture, assessing its importance from the varied perspectives of its earliest English readers. Drawing on letters, diaries, commonplace books, and thousands of marginal annotations inscribed in surviving copies of Florios volume, Hamlin offers a comprehensive account of the transmission and reception of Montaigne in seventeenth-century England. In particular he focuses on topics that consistently intrigued MontaignesEnglish readers: sexuality, marriage, conscience, theatricality, scepticism, self-presentation, the nature of wisdom, and the power of custom. All in all, Hamlins study constitutes a major contribution to investigations of literary readership in pre-Enlightenment Europe.
Publication Date:
14 / 11 / 2013

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