Perhaps as old as writing itself, the metaphor of the book as child has depicted textuality as an only son conceived to represent its father uniformly and to assure the integrity of his name. Richard L. Regosin demonstrates how Montaigne's Essais both departs from and challenges this conventional figure of textuality. He argues that Montaigne's writing is best described as a corpus of siblings with multiple faces and competing voices, a hybrid textuality inclined both to truth and dissimulation, to faithfulness and betrayal, to form and deformation. And he analyzes how this unruly, mixed brood also discloses a sexuality and gender dynamic in the Essais that is more conflicted than the traditional metaphor of literary paternity allows.
Regosin challenges traditional critics by showing how the "logic" of a faithful filial text is disrupted and how the writing self displaces the author's desire for mastery and totalization. He approaches the Essais from diverse critical and theoretical perspectives that provide new ground for understanding both Montaigne's complex textuality and the obtrusive reading that it simultaneously invites and resists. His analysis is informed by poststructuralist criticism, by reception theory, and by gender and feminist studies, yet at the same time he treats the Essais as a child of sixteenth-century Humanism and late Renaissance France. Regosin also examines Montaigne's self-proclaimed taste for Ovid and the role played by the seminal texts of self-representation and aesthetic conception (Narcissus and Pygmalion) and the myth of sexual metamorphosis (Iphis).
This title is part of UC Press's Voices Revived program, which commemorates University of California Press’s mission to seek out and cultivate the brightest minds and give them voice, reach, and impact. Drawing on a backlist dating to 1893, Voices Revived makes high-quality, peer-reviewed scholarship accessible once again using print-on-demand technology. This title was originally published in 1966.