England came late to the Renaissance. But by the time it arrived, its greatest contribution would be literary. John Donne, William Shakespeare, and Ben Jonson served a literate aristocracy eager to be informed and entertained.
Into the late sixteenth century comes the observant figure of Michel de Montaigne, a French statesman and prolific essayist who wrote about nearly everything his mind encountered, “from cannibals to codpieces, suicide to faith,” as Will Hamlin, WSU’s English literature and Renaissance scholar, puts it. For most English readers of the time, Montaigne’s French Essais were made accessible by a translation undertaken by his contemporary John Florio, a language teacher … » More …
Selected pages from copies of Montaigne’s Essays, from Will Hamlin.
From Privacy and the Words of the Dead, by Will Hamlin
…It’s very unlikely that these long-forgotten readers expected anyone
to scrutinize their thoughts–anyone, that is, beyond their own immediate
audience, which was often an audience of one. Yes, it’s true that the
social construction of privacy varies tremendously from one culture to
another, and it may be … » More …
Shakespeare offers little in terms of convincing natural description. His Forest of Arden is praised for what it isn’t rather than what it is.» More ...