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John Florio
Summer 2014

The time in between

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 …

Gallery: Annotated pages from early English editions of Montaigne's Essays

Selected pages from copies of Montaigne’s Essays, from Will Hamlin.

Return to article: Privacy and the Words of the Dead 


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 …