Montaigne and Blogging

My collection of Montaigne's essays, which has followed me since undergraduate school. September 2. 2013.

I first encountered Michel de Montaigne in Nancy Struever’s two-semester class at Johns Hopkins on religion in the Renaissance. (Taking that class adjusted my worldview and caused me to change my major, but that’s another story—and the mark of an amazing professor.)

Montaigne surprised me. His essays, written in the 1500s, read as fresh and immediate. Peppered with his personal experiences, Montaigne’s musings cover learning, culture, assumptions, and personal inquiry. He wants to understand human nature, even while conceding that we can truly know so little, even about ourselves.

If you haven’t read Montaigne, you should.

I’ve written about Samuel Pepys, musing on whether we could consider him a blogger of his time and wondering whether blogs will prove as important to our era’s historical record as Pepys’s daily logs have proved to his.

We could consider Montaigne a blogger of his time as well. Albeit in a different vein.

Seems to me that bloggers who don’t focus all posts on specific subject matter (e.g., business, sports, parenting, and so forth) follow either the Pepys or Montaigne mold:

  • Pepys bloggers pen on-line diaries covering their daily lives, activities, and feelings.

  • Montaigne bloggers write essays that stem from personal perspectives and experiences in an attempt to assess and understand the world.

Musing on this, I realized that I unconsciously styled this blog along Montaigne lines (albeit far inferior), although I’ve had posts that took a Pepys tack. From the beginning, I wanted this site to explore topics, encourage discussion, and help me better understand the world and the people in it.

What kind of blogs do you prefer? Why?