How to get along with people, how to deal with violence, how to adjust to losing someone you love—such questions arise in most people’s lives. They are all versions of a bigger question: How do you live? This question obsessed Renaissance writers, none more than Michel de Montaigne, who wrote free-roaming explorations of his thoughts and experiences unlike anything written before, and in the process invented the genre of the essay.
Montaigne influenced many of the world’s greatest writers, from Shakespeare to Rousseau to Emerson to Christopher Hitchens, and readers still come to him more than four hundred years later in search of companionship, wisdom, and entertainment—and in search of themselves.

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