chapter  2
Montaigne: the growth of experience
Pages 17

Like Don Quixote, its near contemporary, Montaigne's Essais is a highly self-conscious and frequently self-referential text. Cervantes' Book 11 (1615) is set in a world in which Book I (1605) has been published and widelyread and discussed. With Montaigne, also, the later essays comment freely on the earlier ones, and Book III (1588), in particular, several times mentions how its author's life has been changed by the farne foHowing the publication of Books land 11 (1580). The volumes were not presented as separate entities, however, but as parts of a single, growing whole: each new edition in Montaigne's lifetime (as weH as the first posthumous one, in 1595) incorporated additions to the essays already published, as weH as completely new essays. In the middle of the long essay "On Vanity" (III,9), Montaigne states: "Mon livre est tousjours uno Sauf qu'a mesure qu'on se met a le renouveller afin que l'acheteur ne s'en aille les mains du tout vuides, je me donne loy d'y attacher (comme ce n'est qu'une marqueterie mal jointe), quelque embleme supernumeraire" (G ii:402); "My book is always one. Except that at each new edition, so that the buyer may not come off completely empty-handed, I allow myself to add, since it is only an ill-fitted patchwork, some extra ornaments" (F 736).