By Richard L. Regosin
Might be as previous as writing itself, the metaphor of the e-book as baby has depicted textuality as an basically son conceived to symbolize its father uniformly and to guarantee the integrity of his identify. Richard L. Regosin demonstrates how Montaigne's Essais either departs from and demanding situations this traditional determine of textuality. He argues that Montaigne's writing is better defined as a corpus of siblings with a number of faces and competing voices, a hybrid textuality vulnerable either to fact and dissimulation, to faithfulness and betrayal, to shape and deformation. And he analyzes how this unruly, combined brood additionally discloses a sexuality and gender dynamic within the Essais that's extra conflicted than the normal metaphor of literary paternity allows.Regosin demanding situations conventional critics by way of exhibiting how the "logic" of a loyal filial textual content is disrupted and the way the writing self displaces the author's wish for mastery and totalization. He methods the Essais from diversified serious and theoretical views that supply new flooring for realizing either Montaigne's advanced textuality and the obvious analyzing that it at the same time invitations and resists. His research is proficient through poststructuralist feedback, via reception concept, and by means of gender and feminist reports, but while he treats the Essais as a toddler of sixteenth-century Humanism and past due Renaissance France. Regosin additionally examines Montaigne's self-proclaimed flavor for Ovid and the function performed by means of the seminal texts of self-representation and aesthetic belief (Narcissus and Pygmalion) and the parable of sexual metamorphosis (Iphis).
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Extra info for Montaigne's Unruly Brood: Textual Engendering and the Challenge to Paternal Authority
But can it be that virtue does not recognize itself, does not or cannot authenticate itself? Or that moral action or judgment is not sufficient in itself, or does not announce itself for what it is? Marie de Gournay blames the weak and pitiful state of the human condition for what appears to be the impossibility of self-knowledge, even the knowledge that one is virtuous or engaged in moral action. All knowledge, it would appear, must be mediated by the other, all sense of oneself, moral as well as psychological (and, I should add, ontological), is determined by the sanction of the other and must be read in his words, his gaze.
But Marie de Gournay escapes the bland indifference with which daughters—and Montaigne's natural daugh― 56 ― ter, in particular—were traditionally treated, and she escapes the restrictions put on friendship as well. But at a price, I would claim. Montaigne reminds the reader twice in "De la praesumption" that Marie de Gournay is a young woman, but in each case his comments suggest that his "fille d'alliance" is more (or less) than a woman. When Montaigne insists that it is remarkable that a woman has understood the Essais so well, the implication is that Marie de Gournay has indeed read like a man: "Le jugement qu'elle fit des premiers Essays, et femme, et en ce siecle, et si jeune, et seule en son quartier.
This extraordinary gesture may be occasioned by the shame she feels at the effusiveness of her prose or the boldness of her criticism, but much more ― 78 ― appears to be at stake here. We might insist on asking, "Of what is Marie de Gournay guilty"? I would argue that Marie de Gournay is guilty of having misspoken and, more serious, that she is guilty of having spoken at all. Traditionally, as the daughter she has no right to speak, even if, as in this case, the father seems to have authorized her voice in his text and again from his deathbed when he bequeaths the editorship of the Essais to her.