On the Slow Decay of Things

Posted July 6, 2019 10:16 pm by James Matthew Wilson

On the Slow Decay of Things

In the late sixteenth century, the French nobleman Michel de Montaigne retired to his estate to write his Essays. He began an accidental revolution and helped foster what we know as the modern world. What was the subject of his “attempts”? It “is my own self that I am painting,” he wrote, “wholly naked . . . I myself am the subject of my book.”
Montaigne was true to his word.  His first readers admired most his observations on military matters, which came from his firsthand experience of the Wars of Religion. But we hear also of the pleasures of scratching itches and

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