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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.53) 4 Appropriation
Distinguo: Reading Montaigne Differently

Steven Rendall

Oxford University Press

This chapter accounts for Montaigne's repeated claim that he has made everything in the Essais his own. The category of appropriation is central to sixteenth-century reflection on writing; it can be seen as the underlying theme linking topics such as imitation, translation, and interpretation. ‘De l'institution des enfans’ makes explicit the metaphorical ratio: the father is to the son as the author is to the text. Montaigne declares that he sees as well as anyone that his text-child is far from perfect, and that its imperfection accurately reflects his own. Montaigne extends the parallel between writing and education in a somewhat different direction by suggesting that the writer plays both the role of student with respect to antecedent master-texts and that of teacher with respect to readers, just as the paternal metaphor that commands his chapter.

Keywords:   text-child, appropriation, De l'institution des enfans, paternal model, imitation

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