Les Essaies (Essays)
Artist: Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592)
Confronting Bodies: The Roman Catholic Church
Dates of Action: 1595, 1676
Location: France, Rome
Description of Artwork: Les Essaies, (1580-1588): Written more perhaps to express his views, the first two books of Essays include 94 chapters; the earliest are short, relatively impersonal strings of anecdotes with brief conclusions. The most interesting among them reveal the problems of inconsistency, ambition, pain and death. From 1574-75 he shows a growing wariness of stoical solutions to life's problems. He attacks Stoicism, and all dogmatism. He admits fallibility of the human mind to know anything with certainty and takes as his motto "What do I know." The years 1578-80 are more optimistic as Montaigne turns his attention from human limitation to human resources. In Book III, Montaigne proclaims his new sense of unity in the race and in the individual, his heightened confidence leads to greater concern with public behavior.
The Incident: 1595 France-Lyons: Certain sections of the unexpurgated edition were banned by the Church for being tolerant of an easy morality.
Results of Incident: 1676 Italy-Rome: Listed in the Index
Source: Banned Books 387 B.C. to 1978 A.D., by Anne Lyon Haight, and Chandler B. Grannis, R.R. Bowker Co, 1978.