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Distinguo: Reading Montaigne Differently$
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Steven Rendall

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780198151807

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198151807.001.0001

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(p.36) 3 Voices
Distinguo: Reading Montaigne Differently

Steven Rendall

Oxford University Press

Montaigne's essay ‘Que philosopher, c'est apprendre at mourir’ has played an important role in modern discussions of his work. It can be read as a quotation, though it has no quotation marks around it. The title actually introduces a chain of quotations; the echoes of several voices can be discerned in the title of this essay, Cicero, Plato, and Socrates. In testing or essaying possible responses, the text manipulates deictics or ‘shifters’ in such a way as to repeatedly change the subject of discourse. Since it involves an address to absent or imagined persons and projects their replies, the ‘weave of voices’ in Montaigne's essay depends on the figure of prosopopoeia. The prosopopoeia of Nature which dominates the last part of Montaigne's chapter is an interesting case in point.

Keywords:   prosopopoeia, Cicero, Plato, Socrates, Nature's voice

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