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The node Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (person) has already been noded quite well, and I would direct many to that locale. Unfortunately, the present condition of this node is completely unacceptable.

However, due in large part to this barren space, I will fill the void with an explication of the idea of Montaigne as "mountain".

"All of us readers are slaves to spelling, and whether speakers of French or not, this well-known name with the ai sounded eh, as in mais. The fact is that the name is but the common word montagne meaning mountain, and it was so pronounced in the author's time, when it and many other words sported an ai where today the single vowel is found." (From Dawn to Decadence, Barzun)

Montaigne lived in an age full of people who knew that they, and they alone, had the truth, direct from God -- and these truth-bearers all disagreed. Reflecting on a far wider set of facts, and with greater self-knowledge, Montaigne's Essays reveals the evolution of a mind from a negative to a positive philosophy.

Such is the way in which Montaigne began his personal investigation.

"Gradually, without any upheval of feeling such as accompanies sudden conversion, he came to see that to philosophize is to learn how to live. One can only speculate about what brought on the change: it seems reasonable to suppose that the turn came from the increasingly vidid sense of the inmost self and its frequent independence from the intellect." (Barzun)

In a word, Montaigne, by searching the depths of his soul, discovered character.

Montaigne is, as we say, many-sided ("mountainous"), which is why we also speak of seeing someone "in the round." For practical purposes, the theme of character only exists in literature, for nobody has the time or the opportunity to look as roundly at anybody else as Montaigne looked at himself.

See also: The Psychology of the Humors
Montaigne is also the alternate France of the 15th century in the 7th Sea role playing game made by Alderac Entertainment Group.

Montaigne characters get a bonus to their finesse trait and the option of taking the Porte Sorcery. The nobles in Montaigne overindulge on all of life's pleasures while the peasents starve and plot their revolt.

Mon"taigne (?), n.

A mountain.



© Webster 1913.

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